Playwright Jake Brasch visits with Pellissippi State Theatre students who are performing his play "Our Tempest"

Brooklyn-based playwright Jake Brasch, far left on the top row, visits with Pellissippi State Theatre students who are performing his new play “Our Tempest.” The play is directed by Associate Professor Grechen Wingerter, center of bottom row.

Theatre students at Pellissippi State Community College have collaborated with a Brooklyn playwright on a new play that will debut this weekend. 

“Our Tempest” by Jake Brasch will be performed six times at Pellissippi State: at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, April 1-2 and April 8-9, as well as 2 p.m. matinees on Sundays, April 3 and 10. All performances will be held in the Clayton Performing Arts Center on the college’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road, Knoxville. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. 

This marks Pellissippi State’s second collaboration with The Farm Theater in New York. Brasch wrote the first draft of the play in collaboration with Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee, in fall 2021, culminating in a workshop with minimal technical elements. Brasch then revised the play based on that experience and worked with Pellissippi State to bring “Our Tempest” to life in a full-scale production this spring. 

“Having the playwright in the room with us was amazing!” said Associate Professor Grechen Wingerter, who is directing the play at Pellissippi State. “The students loved it. One of the things it allowed us to do was ask lots of questions. When you work on an already published play, you rarely get an opportunity to talk with the playwright about what they are intending with any particular line or moment. You can’t just call or text William Shakespeare or Tennessee Williams and ask them what something means.” 

“Our Tempest” follows a group of Theatre students from a small liberal arts college in Tennessee as they devise a production focusing on climate change using Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” as a starting point. Things don’t go exactly as planned, and as the students reveal their individual fears and insecurities, they discover they need each other, too. 

Poster for "Our Tempest"“In between there are some wacky and wild and magical things that happen in the woods,” Wingerter noted. 

“Our Tempest” stars 10 Pellissippi State students, with a crew that includes both students and alumni. In addition to climate change, the play also delves into issues of race, gender, sexuality and religion – with one role double cast so that the audience and actors can look at one of the characters through those different lenses. 

“I hope the audience will connect to the struggles the characters are going through and that there are no easy answers to the questions raised,” Wingerter said. “I also hope they have fun and enjoy this wacky romp in the woods.” 

Purchase your tickets online here or visit www.pstcc.edu/arts/ for the link. “Our Tempest” has a run time of 1 hour 45 minutes with no intermission, and the play is recommended for ages 13 and older. 

“Our Tempest” is part of The Arts at Pellissippi State, which includes visual art exhibits, theatre and music performances, all of which are open to the public. For a complete list of this semester’s events, visit www.pstcc.edu/arts. To request accommodations for a disability for this or any Pellissippi State event, call 865.539.7401 or email accommodations@pstcc.edu.  

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