“I couldn’t believe how close that story was to my own!” Actor Phil McPeak exclaimed after he had been cast in the role of Rounder. It tells the story of a sixteen-year-old who, in 1944, decides to leave Jonesborough by train, go out west, and get rich, only to reach the other side of the country friendless and homesick, and in a hurry to get home. “I did the exact same thing! Saved up money, bought a suitcase and hat to make my fortune and then learned in a hurry how the world worked” he laughed. “Of course, I didn’t do it in Jonesborough, because I’m not from here, but that story, it’s mine, too.”
The stories in the play I Am Home, opening in Jonesborough’s McKinney Center on February 23, tells the stories of the people who helped shape the Jonesborough of today. These stories revolve around everyday folks, ordinary people who did extraordinary things. However, one phenomenon keeps occurring during the rehearsal process—actors or community members who happen to be at a rehearsal, recognize something of their own story in the scenes presented on stage.
Marcy Hawley laughed out loud during a musical number, about a house renovation that yielded hidden treasures throughout the home. Hawley, was not born in Jonesborough, but made it her home more than twenty years ago, lives in the oldest residential building in Tennessee. Also an actor in the production, she related a time when she had hidden a family heirloom in the kitchen pantry, only to have it go missing. “One day, years from now, someone is going to find a $3,000 rock somewhere! Just like in the play, we are telling about finding hidden treasures found in the walls and floorboards of our old homes. There is a lot of hidden history here- in our houses, and in our stories we haven’t told yet.”
“I Am Home is a play that captures the human spirit. It looks at the times when we are at our darkest moment, and when we rise to our finest hour. Those aren’t just Jonesborough stories. They’re universal stories. We can all connect with them at a human level.”
says playwright Jules Corriere. “There is something for everyone in this play. The music and choreography are stunning, and the cast of fifty actors, of all ages and backgrounds, illuminates the biggest message of the play. While this region is filled with different people, with different abilities and backgrounds, one thing unites all of them. They all call this place their home. The stories in the play are all about how each person’s story contributes to that sense of home.
Written by Jules Corriere
Photos provided by The Herald & Tribune
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