Pellissippi State’s Francisco authors original play, ‘Which Side Are You On’

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Pellissippi State Writer-In-Resident Edward Francisco
Pellissippi State Writer-In-Resident Edward Francisco

Do good works overcome evil, in the end?

This is the ultimate question posed by “Which Side Are You On: The Florence Reece Story,” an original play that will have its world premiere at Pellissippi State Community College April 15-17 and 22-24.

The play is written by Pellissippi State’s Writer-in-Residence Edward Francisco. It is a fictional retelling of the life of Florence Reece, an American social activist, poet and folksong writer. The daughter and wife of coal miners, she penned the song “Which Side Are You On?” which became a social justice anthem after Pete Seeger recorded the tune in 1940.

“Florence Reece began writing this song when she was just 12 years old,” Francisco said. “She finished it when she was 31, after hiding under a bed with her seven children to avoid the bullets fired by hired gun thugs working for the mining company. She tore a calendar page off the wall and wrote the lyrics.”

That year was 1931, the beginning of the Harlan County War, a decade-long battle between coal miners and union organizers on one side and the coal companies, gun thugs and law enforcement officials on the other. The war included a series of strikes, skirmishes, bombings, executions and the occupation of Harlan County by both state and federal troops. Reece’s husband, Sam, a union organizer, died of black lung in 1978. Reece died in Knoxville in 1986.

The final scene of the play imagines what may have been some of the final words shared between Sam and Florence, among them: Do good works truly matter?

Because so little information exists about Reece’s life apart from her contributions during the Harlan County War, Francisco conflated the fictional retelling of Reece’s life with experiences from his own grandmother, the daughter of a coal miner herself.

“I researched ferociously, everything from journals written by coal miners to historical news coverage of the Harlan County War,” Francisco said. The play took nine months to complete. “For nine months, I just bled on paper.”

Francisco is author of “Death, Child and Love,” “The Alchemy of Words” and “Only the Word Gives Us Being,” among other works. This is his third play, after “Fallout Shelter” and “Schrodinger’s Cat’s Meow.”

Tickets to “Which Side Are You On: The Florence Reece Story” are available at www.pstcc.edu/tickets at costs of $12 for adults and $10 for seniors and students. Show times are 7:30 p.m. April 15, 16, 22 and 23 and 2 p.m. April 17 and 24. All showings are in the Clayton Performing Arts Center, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.

The play is part of The Arts at Pellissippi State and the Common Academic Experience, which this year is based upon the book “The United States of Appalachia” by Jeff Biggers. In addition, the play is sponsored by an Arts Builds Communities grant administered by the Tennessee Arts Commission.

For more information, visit www.pstcc.edu/arts or call 865-694-6400. To request accommodations for a disability at this event, contact the executive director of Equity and Compliance at 865-539-7401 or accommodations@pstcc.edu.

 

Download this press release: Francisco Florence Reece

Community invited to Festival of Cultures at Pellissippi State

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This year's Festival of Cultures will feature performances by dance troupes and other entertainers, like these dancers who performed at another Pellissippi State Access and Diversity event last year.
This year’s Festival of Cultures will feature performances by dance troupes and other entertainers, like these dancers who performed at another Pellissippi State Access and Diversity event last year.

Celebrate nine years of Festival of Cultures with Pellissippi State Community College April 8.

The Festival of Cultures will be held in the College Center of the Goins Administration Building on the Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road. The event is free and the community is invited.

Festival of Cultures opens at 4 p.m. with Hardin Valley Thunder, Pellissippi State’s bluegrass band. Additional performers include Debka and the Oasis Dancers from 5:15-6 p.m., Pasion Flamenca featuring Lucia Andronescue from 6:15-7 p.m. and the Caribbean Dancers of Atlanta from 7:15-8:15 p.m.

The family-friendly event also will feature multicultural exhibits; face-painting, crafts and balloon art for children, and a tasting of international foods.

Festival of Cultures is sponsored by Pellissippi State’s Access & Diversity Office. The event also is part of The Arts at Pellissippi State, a yearlong series that brings to the community cultural activities ranging from music and theatre to international celebrations, lectures and the fine arts. 

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400. To request accommodations for a disability at this event, contact the executive director of Equity and Compliance at 865-539-7401 or accommodations@pstcc.edu.

Download this press release: Festival of Cultures 2016

Pellissippi State holds annual book sale to benefit student scholarships

All types of books — from fiction to non-fiction and children’s books to cookbooks — will be available at this year’s Student Scholarship Book Sale at Pellissippi State Community College. The sale, which is held annually, will take place at all five of the college’s campuses during March and April. Proceeds from the sale go directly toward student scholarships.

Bargain hunters may also find collectible magazines like National Geographic, as well as a nice selection of DVDs and CDs. Pellissippi State faculty, staff and students, as well as community members, contributed items for the sale.

Locations, dates and times:

  • Blount County Campus — March 28-29, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. and March 30, 8 a.m.-noon, second floor main corridor
  • Division Street Campus — March 28-29, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. and March 30, 8:30 a.m.-noon, room 118
  • Hardin Valley Campus — April 4-5, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. and April 6, 8 a.m.-noon, College Center in the Goins Administration Building
  • Magnolia Avenue Campus — April 11-12, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., front lobby
  • Strawberry Plains Campus — April 18-19, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., campus lobby

The Student Scholarship Book Sale is sponsored by Pellissippi State’s faculty senate.

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400. To request accommodations for a disability at this event, contact the executive director of Equity and Compliance at 865-539-7401 or accommodations@pstcc.edu.

Download this press release: Student Scholarship Book Sale

Pellissippi State students featured in juried art show

posted in: Community, Events, Students, The Arts | 0
Natasha Smith Drawing
This untitled work, done in graphite, was completed by Pellissippi State student Natasha Smith in her Drawing I class.

Pellissippi State Community College students will be featured in the annual Juried Student Art Exhibition, which kicks off March 28 and runs through April 15.

The Exhibition is free and the community is invited. It will be held in the Bagwell Center for Media and Art on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road. Gallery hours are 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m., Monday-Friday.

Some the artwork on display will be for sale.

“The exhibit will include student works from a variety of media: drawing, painting, two-dimensional and three-dimensional design and ceramics,” said Jennifer Brickey, associate professor in Liberal Arts. “This is my favorite show. It truly represents the work created here during art classes, and it showcases the talent of our students.”

The opening reception and awards ceremony for the participating students will be held from 3-5 p.m. March 28. Awards will be announced at 4 p.m. The reception also is open to the community as a chance to meet the artists or purchase artwork.

The Juried Student Art Exhibition is juried by Pellissippi State’s art faculty.

The grand prize for the show is the “purchase award,” in which Pellissippi State purchases a student’s piece for the college’s permanent collection. The award is worth up to $500. Other awards include $25 gift cards to Jerry’s Artarama, given to four runners-up.

The Juried Student Art Exhibition 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.

For more information, visit www.pstcc.edu/arts or call 865-694-6400. To request accommodations for a disability at this event, contact the executive director of Equity and Compliance at 865-539-7401 or accommodations@pstcc.edu.

Download this press release: PSCC Juried Art Show

 

"Untitled" by Savannah Bell, oil on canvas.
“Untitled” by Savannah Bell, oil on canvas.
"Untiltled" by Kelsey Jones, pen on paper.
“Untiltled” by Kelsey Jones, pen on paper.
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