Band of stage fighters at Pellissippi State takes on Renaissance Festival

2 people fight with swords in Renaissance attire
In the photo, Steve Trigg, left, engages in a mock sword fight with Thomas Crout. Crout plays character Captain Pickle and Trigg plays Beryl Plectrum Codpiece Knackberry Folderol.

Stage-fighting students at Pellissippi State Community College took their unique combat skills to the next level when they performed recently for the East Tennessee Renaissance Festival.

“Our stage-fighting course is unique in Tennessee,” said Charles R. Miller, the college’s Theatre program coordinator and a professor of Liberal Arts. “We have one of the top two-year Theatre programs in the country.”

Students in the stage-fighting course learn the skills to perform mock combat for theatrical purposes. Participants are a mix of full-time students and people from the community enrolled only in the class.

The fighters from Pellissippi State—Greg Congleton, Jordan Cook, Carolyn Corey, Thomas Crout, Julianna Meyers, Steve Trigg and Debi Wetherington—worked as “street characters” at October’s Renaissance Festival in Harriman. Several also performed on stage twice a day in “In a Pickle,” a comedy stunt show, and all honed their skills in “Human Combat Chess,” featuring theatrical sword fighting.

“We were aiming for the highest level of quality and safety available,” said Barrie Paulson, vice president/manager and entertainment director of the East Tennessee Renaissance Festival. “These students from Pellissippi State were cast in lead roles. The word after the performances was that even though the student actors were new, they more than held their own beside other professional stage acts.”

Earlier this year, 10 students at Pellissippi State passed the skills proficiency test of the Society of American Fight Directors. It was the first time the test had been administered in the state in almost 20 years.

In the video, Debi Wetherington and Jordan Cook take part in the Human Combat Chess Match. Jordan plays William Black and Debi plays Mary Tailor, two characters who are engaged to be married, but pitted against each other in the chess match. The video shows their unwillingness to hurt each other even as they are forced to appear to battle.

The college’s stage-fighting course is taught by Bob Borwick, the only SAFD certified instructor in Tennessee. Borwick teaches exclusively at Pellissippi State. Paulson served as a volunteer fight assistant in the course. She, too, passed the SAFD exam earlier this year.

Miller, who taught the stage combat class for years, says he gladly stepped aside for Borwick’s expertise: “Bob has so much great experience, and the quality of our Theatre program comes first.”

“It turned out to be a great opportunity for me to keep current with my stage-fight skills and to scout quality actor-combatants for the Renaissance Festival,” Paulson said.

Paulson and the Pellissippi State students tested with Dale Girard, an SAFD fight master and director of stage combat studies at North Carolina School of the Arts. By passing the exam, the students earned a much sought-after skill status in the world of professional theatre.

The course to prepare for the SAFD skills proficiency test is THEA 2222 Special Topics (Stage Combat), and it will be available again in spring 2015. Business and Community Services also is offering a non-credit Stage Combat course.

“I would love to see Pellissippi State’s Theatre program become the place for stage combat training in East Tennessee, and the place talent scouts target for expertise,” Paulson said.

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call (865) 694-6400.

Pellissippi State: Orientation sessions set for new spring enrollees

Students who have been accepted to attend Pellissippi State Community College for the spring 2015 semester should make plans now to attend a New Student Orientation session. Two orientation dates include special sessions for international students.

The sessions are required of all first-time degree-seeking freshmen and are recommended for transfer students. Reserve a space as soon as possible.

Orientation gives new enrollees the opportunity to meet with Pellissippi State students, faculty, and staff; learn about what they can expect in college and what the college expects of them; learn strategies for college success; explore degree, major, and transfer options; and discover campus services and resources such as financial aid, tutoring, and computer resources.

New Student Orientation campuses, dates and times:

  • Hardin Valley Campus—Dec. 2, 5-8:30 p.m.; Jan. 8, 1-4:30 p.m.; Jan. 16, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
  • Blount County Campus—Jan. 15, 1-3:30 p.m.
  • Division Street Campus—Jan. 16, 2-5:30 p.m.
  • Magnolia Avenue Campus—Jan. 14, 1-4 p.m.
  • Strawberry Plains Campus—Jan. 12, noon-3

The Jan. 16 orientations at the Hardin Valley and Division Street campuses include a special session for international students.

Students can attend any of the New Student Orientation sessions; however, it’s best to attend an event at the campus you will attend. Pellissippi State encourages parents, spouses and others supportive of the student to attend New Student Orientation. The application deadline for spring semester is Jan. 9. Classes begin Jan. 20.

To sign up for an orientation session, visit www.pstcc.edu/orientation or call (865) 694-6400. To request accommodations for a disability, contact Disability Services at accommodations@pstcc.edu or (865) 539-7153.

Pellissippi State: Arrive early for complimentary tickets to popular Holiday Spectacular

Female ballerina with other ballerinas in the back and lit christmas trees

Join in the holiday cheer at Pellissippi State Community College’s hugely popular annual Holiday Spectacular concert, offered in two performances, 6 and 8 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 4.

Part of Pellissippi State’s Music Concert Series, the Holiday Spectacular is free, and the community is encouraged to attend. Because space is limited, the college asks that guests arrive 30 minutes before each performance to receive a complimentary ticket. Tickets will be issued at the door to the first 485 guests, and having a ticket guarantees a seat.

The Holiday Spectacular, whose theme this year is “A Candlelight Christmas Evening,” takes place in the Clayton Performing Arts Center on the Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road. The concert features the talents of more than 150 Pellissippi State students and faculty in eight different musical ensembles, performing classical choral numbers, bluegrass, and jazz.

“The concert will feature exciting production numbers full of bright visual displays, as well as more quiet, intimate carols by candlelight to celebrate the warmth of the season,” said Bill Brewer, Music program coordinator.

“Every audience member will leave the show with a taste of holiday cheer.”

The Music Concert Series is part of The Arts at Pellissippi State, which brings to the community cultural activities ranging from music and theatre to international celebrations, lectures, and the fine arts.

While all events in the series are free, donations are accepted at the door for the Pellissippi State Foundation on behalf of the Music Scholarship fund.

For additional information about the Music Concert Series or The Arts at Pellissippi State, call (865) 694-6400 or visit www.pstcc.edu/arts. To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources and Affirmative Action at (865) 694-6607 or humanresources@pstcc.edu.

Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus hosts bluegrass band

posted in: Blount County Campus, Events | 0

row of musicians singing and playing instruments on a stage outdoors

Pellissippi State Community College’s bluegrass ensemble brings the thunder to the school’s Blount County Campus Wednesday, Nov. 19.

The bluegrass ensemble, known as Hardin Valley Thunder, performs 4-5 p.m. in the William “Keith” McCord Lobby of the campus, located at 2731 W. Lamar Alexander Parkway. The event is free and the community is invited. A brief reception follows the music.

The students will perform both classic and contemporary tunes, among them, “Daddy Sang Bass,” “Kentucky Waltz,” and “Landslide.”

The bluegrass ensemble was formed in 2009 and is led by Larry Vincent, assistant professor of Music.

“Bluegrass music is part of the heritage of East Tennessee,” Vincent said. “Bluegrass has a special place in our community because of its origins in this part of the country, and our ensemble reflects that proud heritage.”

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call (865) 694-6400. To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources at (865) 694-6607 or humanresources@pstcc.edu.

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