The Appalachian State University Department of Theatre and Dance continues its virtual fall season at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 3 and 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 4 with dramatic readings selected from Elizabeth Rush’s Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore, an enlightening story with first-hand accounts of the tragic experiences communities are confronting as a result of global warming.
Rising is presented free of charge (although donations are accepted) with readings broadcast via the department’s YouTube channel. Audience members can access on the department’s channel at https://theatreanddance.appstate.edu/ beginning thirty minutes prior to each reading.
The book was chosen by the Appalachian State University 2020-21 Common Reading Program. A 2019 Pulitzer Prize Finalist in General Nonfiction, Rising was hailed by the selection committee as, “a “rigorously reported story about American vulnerability to rising seas, particularly disenfranchised people with limited access to the tools of rebuilding.” The Theatre and Dance department, in collaboration with The Climate Stories Collaborative, is presenting selected readings from this affecting work with moving stories that lend themselves to powerful and timely theatre. Appalachian students will interpret the stories Rush recorded of people from every corner of the country, all of whom are experiencing the dire consequences of rising sea levels and rising temperatures due to climate change.
The department last collaborated with the Common Reading Program in 2018 with an extended performance run of Moises Kaufman’s play “The Laramie Project,” which was scheduled to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the Matthew Shepard hate crime.
Rising director Dr. Derek Davidson said that the author “plays very imaginatively with all the ways of understanding the iterations of the word ‘rising,’” and that he is excited to help facilitate these stories into a theatrical performance.” Davidson also said that he is following the lead of a theatre in Rhode Island whose presentation of these readings was cancelled due to COVID-19.
Introducing The Cast and Creative Team
The Appalachian production showcases the talents of 11 majors and minors within the Theatre and Dance program. Assistant Professor Dr. Derek Davidson is the department’s liaison with the Common Reading Program, Co-Director of Appalachian’s Climate Stories Collaborative, and a nationally-certified Climate Reality Leader. He chose selections from the book, and transformed them into engaging readings for the stage and directing the project as a whole.
Davidson said the readings will not only focus on the rising sea levels, but will also highlight the many uses of the term “rising,” in the sense of rising temperatures and the rising up of people fighting common battles in their home communities. Davidson explained that the students will not be memorizing the excerpts, but will be reading directly from the book, thereby creating a more personal experience while staying true to the first-hand stories recorded by the author.
The cast includes: Maddie Barrett, a freshman Theatre major from Stokesdale, NC; Matthew Borneman, a senior Theatre Education major from Wilmington, NC; sophomore General Theatre major Nick Isley from Concord; senior General Theatre and Computer Information System major Christina Schwendig from Waxhaw; sophomore Psychology and English Literature major Zoe Nagel from Raleigh; Laramie Ward, a sophomore Theatre Performance and Creative Writing major from Vilas; and freshman Theatre Performance major Maggie Woods from Charlotte.
Associate Professor John Marty is the lead theatre design faculty member in charge of the production with staff member Matt Tyson serving as technical director. Sage Espinosa, a senior theatre design and technology major from Queens, New York, is serving as the Stage Manager. Their production team consists of classmates Ahmed Al-Kadhi, Catherine DeCarolis, and Margaret Young.
Want to Attend? Here’s How
Please note that Rising is presented free of charge (although donations are accepted) with readings broadcast via the department’s YouTube channel. Audience members can access on the department’s channel at https://theatreanddance.appstate.edu/ beginning thirty minutes prior to each of the readings which begin promptly at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 3 and 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 4 .
In lieu of admission, contributions may be made to support the ongoing production expenses of the program via an online portal linked directly from the department website. Simply go to the “Give” link on the Theatre and Dance webpage and enter your donation.
By Melanie MacDonald and Carson Rainey
About the Department of Theatre and Dance
The Department of Theatre and Dance is one of seven departments housed in Appalachian’s College of Fine and Applied Arts. Its mission is to facilitate transformative experiences for students and the public, which cultivate compassionate, creative and collaborative communities through theatre and dance. The department also offers coursework for integrated learning through the arts to the general university student population. Its dynamic co-curricular production program provides exemplary theatre and dance experiences to departmental students, the university community and the region.
About the College of Fine and Applied Arts
Appalachian State University’s College of Fine and Applied Arts is a dynamic and innovative group of seven academic departments, bringing together a variety of perspectives, experiences and real-world education to provide unique opportunities for student success. The college has more than 3,000 undergraduate and graduate majors. Its departments are Applied Design, Art, Communication, Military Science and Leadership, Sustainable Development, Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment, and Theatre and Dance. Learn more at https://faa.appstate.edu.