Posts Tagged ‘2011’

Chattanooga’s Best Theatre Productions of 2011

January 9, 2012

Here are links to the original stories for the 3 chosen plays:

The Robber Bridegroom was produced by The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Department of Theatre and Speech.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof was produced by the Chattanooga Theatre Centre.

My Children, My Africa was produced by Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga.

Listen to this Story:

Some Great Reads You Might Have Missed In 2011

January 4, 2012

Adera Causey is a volunteer book reviewer for the Chattanooga Times Free Press.  Each week, the newspaper publishes one of Causey’s reviews in the Sunday books section.  In this segment, she joins us to discuss books you might have missed in 2011.


Teju Cole – Open City

Jesmyn Ward – Salvaging the Bones

Julie Otsuka – The Buddha In The Attic

Russell Banks – Lost Memory of Skin

Manuel Munoz – What You See In The Dark

Karen Russell – Swamplandia

Kevin Wilson – The Family Fang



Danzy Senna – You Are Free


And a bonus – overlooked great reads from 2010:


Brando Skyhorse – The Madonnas of Echo Park

Heidi W. Durrow – The Girl Who Fell From The Sky


Isabel Wilkerson – The Warmth of Other Suns

“Fire Poems,” a New Collection by Finn Bille is Published

December 21, 2011

The following is taken from the press release for “Fire Poems,” published in the Fall of this year:

Out of the flames of his house fire Finn Bille has created poetry and collected aid for other fire victims.

Bille’s recently published collection of poems, Fire Poem, deals with the fire that destroyed his house at 504 Fort Wood Place in Chattanooga on March 18, 2003. He and his wife, Jeanne, had lived in the Fort Wood Historic District for 25 years.

A few of these poems were also publihsed in 2011 in the anthology, Southern Light: Twelve Contemporary Southern Poets, Executive Editor, Ray Zimmerman.

The Red Cross assisted the Billes with necessary personal items, while the neighbors united to help them with housing, clothes, and support.

Bille’s advice: Do not leave oily rags where they can start a fire. Enclose them in airtight metal containers.

When you buy a copy of Fire Poems at Winder Binder Gallery and Book Store on Frazier Avenue in Chattanooga, two dollars will be donated to the Red Cross for aid to fire victims.

“Nativity: A Gospel Musical Explosion” Debuts at the Tivoli for Destiny Theatre Co.

December 19, 2011

Langston Hughes has been called the “Poet Laureate” of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920’s.      His play, “Black Nativity” was the first play by an African American to  run on Broadway in 1961.   Since then, it has continually been produced each holiday season in American theatres.    Langston’s story is a retelling of St. Luke’s from the Old Testament through music and poetic narrative with an African American cast.

Thomas Jones has written an adaptation of, “Black Nativity” for this year’s Destiny Theatre production.     The 2nd Act of Hughes’ play is set during a revival at a modern day church.    Jones’ adaptation opens with a church that has burned down.  As the congregation is seeking a new place to worship they are reminded of the Star of David and Bethlehem.   This sets the story for, “Nativity: A Gospel Musical Explosion.”

“Nativity: A Gospel Musical Explosion” is directed by Thomas Jones.    Sam Patton is the musical director and Dawn Axam is the choreographer.     The show opens on the Tivoli stage for two nights, Wednesday and Thursday, December 21st and 22nd, 2011.     A portion of the proceeds from ticket sales will go to the Bethlehem Center for the children.

Reporting: Monessa Guilfoil

Listen to the Story:

Not The Bobcat You Remember: From Zed To World’s Greatest Dad

December 15, 2011


Bobcat Goldthwait (courtesy Wikipedia)

Bobcat Goldthwait is coming to Chattanooga on December 16th and 17th for 3 shows at the Vaudeville Café.  If the only thing you remember about Goldthwait is that he played Zed, a howling, hyperactive character in the Police Academy movies, then you’ve missed the best part of his career.

These days, Goldthwait is passionate about writing and directing.  He makes independent films–his most successful so far has been World’s Greatest Dad, which starred Academy Award winner Robin Williams.  The film scored an impressive 89% approval rating on and was a hit at the Sundance Film Festival.  Goldthwait’s other recent films include Sleeping Dogs Lie and God Bless America.

Goldthwait’s shows at the Vaudeville Café:

2nd Annual Artist Holiday Home Show Set for Saturday

December 9, 2011

Reporting: Monessa Guilfoil

This Saturday, December 10th, 2011 from 11 to 5 P.M., the public is invited to the 2nd Annual Artist Holiday Home Show.   The Home Show is located in the brick house studio home of jeweler Janet Campbell.    The address is 204 Hillcrest Avenue in the Hemphill Neighborhood in Brainerd.   The public is invited to come see works by Traci Paden, Tim Reed and Jeanie Holland, Janet Campbell and Thomas Spake.

The artists say:

Join us for an afternoon of Holiday cheer away from the traffic and frenzy of the malls. You’ll find unique handcrafted art by local artists. Find that one special gift of treat yourself.

For directions or further information on this year’s Holiday Home Show:  –text or call 423-314-0164.

Listen to the Story:

CTC’s, “The Emperor’s New Clothes” Goes Vaudeville

December 5, 2011

Chattanooga Theatre Centre brings this Youth theatre show to the Circle Stage.    The original by Hans Christian Anderson has been re-envisioned by Youth Theatre Director Maria Chattin Carter and the young cast.   CTC’s, “Emperor’s New Clothes” is set in an old Vaudeville Theatre house and features stock Vaudeville characters like a sad clown, a magician and his assistant, acrobats, a ventriloquist/fortune teller, little dancing girls, two scoundrel costumers and a grandiose lead actor known as the Emperor.

CTC’s press release gives dates and times and a brief synopsis:

  Public Shows: Dec. 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, and 18 (Friday shows at 7:30pm and Sat. and Sun. at 2:30pm)
School group performances are available. Please call the Box Office at (423) 267-8534 for dates and times.

Festival season is upon the land and the narcissistic emperor needs new duds. Two con men take advantage of the wonderful emperor and possibly teach him a much-needed lesson. This is sure to be a funny, fast-paced comedy the whole family will enjoy.

Reporting: Monessa Guilfoil

Listen to the Story:

“Have A Seat” Gives Voice to Chattanooga Homelessness

November 28, 2011

ETC "Have a Seat"

Have a Seat is an original theatre piece created by the actors and co-directors, Christy Gallo and John Thomas Cecil.    Gallo gives a description of the 5 characters in Have a Seat which are based on the, “Top five reasons why people identify that they are homeless.”

Martha Jean – been on the streets most of her life and is now old enough to receive government housing
Leo – has aspergers, has been on the streets 7 years after suffering the loss of his wife
Arthur – new to homelessness after his father kicked him out of the house for being gay, is/was a student, struggles with drugs
Jinx – she ran away from her abusive father and has been riding the rails, and finally looking for a way to get her life back
Amy – lived beyond her means, lost her job, was evicted and her father wouldn’t help, been homeless about 4 months

Gallo and Cecil based this play on research from the Homeless Coalitions 2009 Blueprint and from statistics from the most recent Census.    One character in Have a Seat is based on an actual person as seen through the eyes of her social worker.    Here’s more from the ETC press release:

By the Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga

Directed by John Thomas Cecil and Christy Gallo

Dec 2- Dec 18 (Fridays 7:30, Saturdays 2:00, Sundays 3:00 AND/OR 6:30)

Description: We close out the season with an introspective look from the bottom up. The idea was presented about structuring a piece of theatre based on the concept of “if these chairs could talk.” We took that idea a step further by addressing the idea that a seat looks at the world from below everyone and couple that with the idea communities across country are slowly becoming inundated with homeless populations, who also see society from the bottom up. So HAVE A SEAT is going to focus of the homeless community in Chattanooga, spotlighting where they sit, where they hang out and who they are.

Listen to the Story with Co-Directors and Cast Members:


Interview with Textile Artist Kaffe Fassett and his Niece, Painter Erin Gafill

November 21, 2011

Renowned textile designer and teacher Kaffe Fassett visited Chattanooga for the first time in October of this year.    His niece, award winning artist and teacher Erin Gafill and her husband, photographer Tom Birmingham accompanied Fassett here giving lectures and workshops around town that focused on color and design.    Erin Gafill and Kaffe Fassett stopped by WUTC for an interview while here.

Fassett has lived in London, England for the last 45 years.    He has traveled the world with exhibitions showing his masterpieces of textile including quilts, needlepoint and mosaic tile.    In 1988, Fassett’s work was displayed in the Victoria and Albert Museum.    In 1998, his Mosaic Tile Garden was the winner of a Gold Medal in the Chelsea Flower Show.    Has has authored several books and is currently working on a memoir.

Listen to the story:

"Oak Tree at Nepenthe" by Erin Gafill

Here’s more about artist, teacher and writer Erin Gafill from her website:

In 2009 Erin and her husband Tom Birmingham were honored by the Arts Council for Monterey County as 2009 Luminaries, “Champions of the Arts.”

In 2010 Erin and Tom took their “Championing The Arts Tour” on the road, visiting 17 cities over 9 weeks.  They staged art shows, art salons, interviewed arts professionals, held workshops, and taught free art programs to children and their families.

Erin credits her deep familial roots in the arts for her on-going work today.  Her maternal grandparents  Lolly and Bill Fassett built Big Sur’s famed Nepenthe Restaurant,  a mecca for artist, poets, writers, and bohemians since it opened in 1949.  And Lolly’s maternal grandmother was Jane Gallatin Powers, a Modernist painter who had the first artist’s studio in Carmel and traveled to Paris in the 1920′s to study with Andre L’hote, a student of Cezanne’s.

Erin is on the creative arts faculty for both Esalen Institute, Big Sur, California ( and Rancho La Puerta, Tecate, Mexico, ( as well as Studio One – Big Sur (

Reporting: Monessa Guilfoil

“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” Produced by UTC Department of Theatre

November 14, 2011

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Department of Theatre and Speech presents this Tony Award winning musical comedy written by Rachel Sheinkin with music  and lyrics by William Finn and conceived by Rebecca Feldman.     Here’s more about UTC’s production from the press release:

UTC Theatre continues its 2011-2012 Season with the musical, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” running November 11th, 12th, and 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th in the Dorothy Hackett Ward Theatre, located in the UTC Fine Arts Center at the corner of Vine and Palmetto Streets. Curtain is at 7:30 pm, and free parking is available in nearby university lots. Tickets are $12 for students, seniors, and alumni and $15 for the general public and are available at the UTC Fine Arts Center Box Office during the week 10 am to 4 pm, and at the theatre the night of performances.The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is a musical that centers on that most competitive of all intellectual pursuits- the chance to advance to the National Spelling Bee finals in Washington DC. The slightly eccentric cast of over- (and under-) achievers face their fears, dreams and hopes as they spell their way to glorious success, or abject failure. This musical will not only delight audiences, it gives them a chance to participate! 4 audience members will be selected each night to get up on stage and test their spelling ability.

UTC Theatre Faculty member Gaye Jeffers directed The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. The show features the talents of UTC students Savannah Daigle, Michael Haggarty, Stephanie Hirsh, Alex Whittle, Megan Cobb, Brandon McCravy, Nicole Pavol, Maggie McNulty and Blake Harris. Tim Hinck provided musical direction and will conduct the orchestra. UTC Theatre faculty member Steve Ray designed the set and props. Award-winning UTC costume designer Sydney Roberts fashioned the costumes, and UTC Theatre faculty member John R. Burgess designed the lighting and led the technical direction. Guest scenic artist Dottie Mae Youell painted the set and resident Technical Specialist Larry Brick supervised construction.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee has humble roots, explains Jeffers.    This Broadway musical was created by an improvisational company called The Farm as a play called Crepiscule.   And it just so happened that the Nanny of Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Wendy Washerstein was involved in the production and invited Washerstein to come see it.     Then the playwright invited her friend, musical writer and director James Lapine to a performance of Crepiscule and from there a collaboration was formed between them to turn this play into the 2-time Tony Award winning Broadway musical hit.   In Jeffers words, “It went from a bare bones, really kind of improv based” play with a, “Handful of friends making theatre to grew, grew, grew and it wound up on Broadway.”

Reporting: Monessa Guilfoil

Listen to the Story with director and cast: