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The Coalmont Elementary School Stage will become a 1931 setting as 12 of the school’s students will bring to life one of the mountain stories penned by beloved local author, May Justus. The theater project’s Director, Catalina Jordan Alvarez, chose and adapted Justus’s book “The Other Side of the Mountain,” with copyright permission granted by the University of Tennessee. This play was initiated as a pilot project by the Grundy Area Arts Council (GAAC) through a generous grant by the Community Fund of the South Cumberland Plateau (CFSCP).
The play is about a little girl, Glory, who knew only about one side of Little Twin Mountain, and then in a wonderful year, learns many things through hearing about the big world that exists on the other side of the mountain. Students who are playing the roles include Bailey Brown, Katie Brown, Brittany Cunningham, Will Jackson, Charley Meeks, Harley Nunley, Ally Ramsey, Haley Sanders, Christopher Smallwood, Savannah Smith, Elly Stamper, and Jillian Wise. Incorporated into the play are renditions of local traditional music and reminders of treasured customs.
Since the beginning of March, the student cast has been participating in rehearsals after school, learning theater techniques and also participating in production activities such as set and costume design. Collaborating with Director Jordan Alvarez are Linda Heck, Musical Director, Sound Design and Production Facilitator; Addison Willis, Sound Design; Ruth Isabel Guerra and Ally Hollis, Set Design; Dan Pate, Lighting Design; Josh Orange, Prop Manager from GCHS; and Stephanie Harris, Costume Manager, also from GCHS. Coordinating with the Coalmont School’s LEAP program was paramount to the success of GAAC’s pilot project and thus the development of this wonderful children’s play.
The Children’s Theater Pilot Project is hopefully the first of many GAAC projects to come through their new program called GrACE (Grundy Area Creative Endeavors). Council planning has resulted in the development of a long-range plan focused on incorporating new and exciting arts (visual, performing, written-word, and culinary) into the lives of local students and the eight schools comprising the South Cumberland Plateau area. This seed project and the April performances are dedicated to the memory of Dot Minkler who was a student of May Justus, also a founding member of the Grundy Area Arts Council, and an inspiration to many who hold our plateau community dear.
The Council is already engaged in more grant writing, which will support continued facilitation and growth of this in-school/after-school effort. Additional support for the Council’s programs is provided by memberships, which are available for purchase by interested citizens. Memberships for one year are available in the following categories: $10. – Individual; $15. – Family; and $25. – Benefactor.
To show your support and be delightfully entertained by this children’s play, please join us at Coalmont Elementary School on Saturday evening, April 27 at 7:00 p.m. and on Sunday afternoon, April 28 at 4:00 p.m. The performances are free and open to the public.