The Long Trip Home, a new play from Jonesborough’s StoryTown Initiative, is based on the extraordinary stories of ordinary people from the Washington County community. The stories in the play were collected by members of a team of trained interviewers, known as the StoryTown Brigade, and among the many stories collected this year were those of ninety-six-year-old Louise Crowe, who has had a life-long passion for politics, and raised a son who would become the first Democrat elected to the State Senate in East Tennessee in more than a hundred years. Rusty also explains his transition from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party. To playwright Jules Corriere,
this story is one that needed to be presented, as a way to highlight the important people who come from this region, as well as showing the influence that heritage and culture plays in the lives of individuals from the community.
In the play, Louise remembers campaigning at six years old for her first candidate, Al Smith, who ran against Herbert Hoover. Her tale spans nearly a century of political involvement, which brought her a feeling of empowerment- something she took very seriously having been born only two years after women were granted the right to vote. “Some of my candidates have won, some have lost, but I have never given up on the idea that I can make a difference.”
Louise explains that she discovered a passion for becoming involved from her father, and she passed this passion on to her son, who has served this district for decades now- first as a Democrat, and now as a Republican.
Larry Bunton as John Russell
In Long Trip Home Larry Bunton, Greeneville actor will hit the stage. He has performed all over the region, including the Jonesborough Repertory Theater and Johnson City Community Theater. Larry has done a lot of work lately at the Blue Moon, to include Every Christmas Story Ever Told, Sylvia, and Elvis Has Left The Building. He has performed at Walters State in Hamlet and Heathers: The Musical. He also played Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at Tusculum University. Larry also appears regularly as a cast member of the Jonesborough Yarn Exchange Radio Show at the International Storytelling Center and broadcast on WETS 89.5 FM.
In The Long Trip Home, Larry will be portraying Jonesborough resident John Russell, who played an instrumental role in the Apollo Space programs. He will also play the role of John Landis in a scene about Erwin resident Krystal Hawkin’s grandparents, and the role of Uncle Ed in Virginia Law’s scene, in which she was present during an assassination attempt on President-Elect Roosevelt’s life.
To prepare for his roles, Larry does a lot of research about his characters and the time periods in which their stories take place. “In doing research for the scene about Roosevelt, it just made me think about what a different world we would be living in if the attempt had been successful.” He comments that this play, rooted in history and personal experiences, carries such gravity. It’s real people, who were a part of history, in big and small ways.
A little sneak peek at John Russell’s story:
The space program was just beginning. I was too young for Gemini and most of the Mercury projects, but I remember learning all I could about them. Kennedy Space station was being built, and we were in a race to put a man on the moon. The program was holding interviews in different places around the country, to find the scientists that would make it happen. The closest they came was Knoxville, and I went. There were two major requirements. You had to have a degree, and you had to have five-years experience. Well, I was pretty fresh from Vietnam, and not yet finished with college, but at the interview, they asked me questions and I had the answer in my head to computations or logistical problems. Didn’t need any paper to work it out. I could just see it. They offered me the job on the spot. I wasn’t going to the moon, but I was getting us there.
Meagan Day as Krystal Hawkins
Cast Member Meagan Day plays Washington County resident Krystal Hawkins in the new StoryTown production The Long Trip Home. This original play, based on extraordinary stories of ordinary people of this region, features dozens of vignettes, including the charming tale Krystal Hawkins remembers about her grandmother and grandfather, and how they met via letters across the country when both were later in life.
“My grandmother met my grandfather through the mail.” She explains how her grandmother Cora’s brother was working at a logging camp in Oregon. He met a man named Harry from Kingsport, and they were the only people from East Tennessee at the camp and struck up a friendship. Cora’s brother gave his new friend the mailing address of his sister. Before long, Cora and Harry were engaged. Harry moved back home, and Harry, at age sixty, and Cora, now in her forties, got married.
Meagan Day plays the role of Krystal, narrating the story as it comes to life on the stage. Meagan lives in Jonesborough, Tennessee, and works at the Jonesborough Eye Clinic. She is an avid supporter of new and emerging activities and businesses in Jonesborough. Self-described as part of a “NextGenJbo” group, she sees herself as “an encourager” to these new ideas and businesses that are growing Jonesborough into the next generation of innovators. Later in the play, she even plays herself in a scene about her and fellow “NextGenJbo” members Ashely Cavender, Katelyn Yarbrough, Katie and Zac Jenkins, Anna Floyd, and others.
The Long Trip Home makes its world debut February 22 at the McKinney Center and plays through March 3. Tickets are available by calling 423-753-1010 or online at mckinneycenter.com/longtriphome.