Feigelson’s ‘Moon Vine’ to debut
Took first place in Theatreworks playwriting contest for second time
Teri K. Feigelson’s new Southern Gothic play, “Moon Vine,” premieres this weekend at TheatreWorks as a winner of Playhouse on the Square’s NewWorks@theworks playwriting competition. It’s the second play she’s written and the second play she’s had staged thanks to the competition that seeks out new work.
Her first, “Mountain View,” presented a year ago, was also a Southern Gothic story, although set in the Appalachians. It won Ostrander Award recognition for best original script as well as a special award for original music and musicians. “‘Moon Vine’ is set in an old, rambling farmhouse on Delta land in the 1970s,” Feigelson says. “A once thriving farm, it’s now kind of ghostly and faded, and most of it has been sold to developers.”
The story focuses on the relationship of a brother and sister who are stuck with what’s left and trying to survive as best they can.
Feigelson has a clear sense of what she sees as being Southern Gothic. “I can tell you what I’m drawn to and that is damaged, sort of delusional, dysfunctional characters that I think make up a large portion of the genre,” she says. “There’s a dark side with a glimmering of lightness and whimsy. There are some supernatural elements and mystical references. And a lot of layering of symbols.”
These tales emerge from her experiences and her deep appreciation of storytelling. “Somebody once told me that I have an ear for dialect and the rhythm of language,” she says. “Maybe that comes from the fact that I come from a long line of storytellers, like my mom and dad. There were storytelling rituals of an evening or on Sunday afternoons, and that ritual has its
own kind of rhythm.”
Feigelson’s father, the late Keith Kennedy, was director of theater and chairman of the department at Memphis State University for 20 years until his retirement in 1985. “My dad truly had the gift, and my brothers do too,” she says. “That’s in my DNA. I always wrote, but prior to just recently, I wrote mostly a journal and observations about life.”
Her father always encouraged her, saying “Write, TK, write.” And, Feigelson says, he urged her to question authority. “Maybe if he’d said, ‘TK, under no circumstances should you ever write,’ I’d probably have a couple of novels by now. But I needed to experience life to have something to write about, so playwriting came later in life.”
She feels fortunate to have had her first two plays chosen by the Newworks@theworks competition and in having Ken Zimmerman direct both plays. “The writing talent in this community is rich, and I’m glad Ken has been interested in directing. He understands where I’m coming from.”
“Moon Vine,” a winner of Playhouse on the Square’s Newworks@theworks competition, July 8-31 at Theatreworks, 2085 Monroe Ave. Showtimes: 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets: $22 opening weekend, $30 Thursdays and Sundays, $35 Fridays and Saturdays. $22 seniors/students/military; $10 children under 18. Info: 901-726-4656 and playhouseonthesquare.org.
TALES AND SONGS
Storyteller Elaine Blanchard and bass-baritone Laurence Albert are teaming up for an unusual program of spoken and sung words Wednesday.
The presentation is part of the Senior Arts Series from the nonprofit Creative Aging. The series is open to everyone but is particularly aimed at senior citizens who want to experience the arts but may not be able to drive at night or afford expensive tickets. The events are held every couple of months at Theatre Memphis.
Blanchard is known for putting together Prison Stories, a creative writing and performance program where inmates can share their experiences. She won the 2011 Jefferson Award for Public Service in Memphis and received the Upstander Award from Facing History and Ourselves. She was also awarded the Woman of Vision Award for 2014 from Memphis’ Women of Achievement.
Albert has performed more than 50 operatic roles in his 40year career, including in Europe, Africa and throughout North America. His presentation will include Richard Strauss’ “Breit’ über mein Haupt” and Margaret Bond’s “Three Dream Portraits,” which he performed at the Levitt Shell in 2015. He will be accompanied on piano by Jill Chamberlain Brookoff.
Blanchard says her story is adapted from her first one-woman show, based on her life as a young girl. “I was 5 and lonely and went across the street to have a conversation with a black boy,” she says. There were ugly consequences when her parents found out, and the story had a profound impact on Blanchard.
“I’ve reworked it and fictionalized the resolution of the story,” she says. “And Larry is going to be singing these beautiful pieces,” at stopping points during her storytelling.
The performance series is a boon not only for its target audience but for the artists as well. Creative Aging has several paid artists on its roster, including Blanchard, and pairs them with guest artists for the events.
“It’s a different opportunity to hear and see dance, singing, folk music and to talk with the artists,” Blanchard says. “It brings people back to life. It’s so “Moonvine”: A Southern Gothic tale comes to life as family members on a Delta farm try to cope with the past, present, and uncertain future. 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays, through July 31. Pots@theworks, 2085 Monroe. $35 Fridays-saturdays, $30 Sundays and Thursdays, $22 senior citizens, students and military with ID, $10 children under 18. 901-726-4656. playhouseonthesquare.org. “Sister Act”: When disco diva Deloris Van Cartier witnesses a murder, she is put into protective custody in a convent. 8 p.m. Friday-saturday ($40) and 2 p.m. Sunday ($35) at Playhouse on the Square, 66 S. Cooper. $22 senior citizens, students and military, $15 for children under 18. 901-726-4656.
rewarding, and I love my storytelling gig.”
Creative Aging presents Laurence Albert and Elaine Blanchard, 1 p.m. July 13 at Theatre Memphis, 630 Perkins Ext. Admission $5. Info: creativeagingmidsouth.org and 901-272-3434.
Bekka Koch and Dane Van Brocklin play sister and brother in the Southern Gothic drama “Moon Vine,” a premiere of the latest play by Memphian Teri K. Feigelson, opening this weekend at Theatreworks.