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The life and accomplishments of playwright Romulus Linney will be celebrated during the event “Romulus Linney: Back Home in the Mountains” Sept. 20-21 at Appalachian State University.
The event includes a craft talk on writing for the stage, a panel discussion on being an actor in professional theatre, master classes for theatre majors which will be open to the public, and the dedication and opening of the Romulus Linney Papers and Exhibit in Belk Library and Information Commons.
Actors, a playwright, a poet and Linney’s relatives will lead the programs. All events are free unless otherwise noted. In some cases, registration will be required.
Thursday, Sept. 20
2-3:15 p.m., “The Craft of Writing,” panel discussion with poet and professor Louis Asekoff and writer Leslie Maslow, moderated by Dr. Susan S. Cole. Belk Library and Information Commons Room 114.
Friday, Sept. 21
8:30 a.m., Coffee and registration for the day’s events begins.
9-9:20 a.m. Welcome and opening remarks
9:20-10:45 a.m., “Being a Working Actor in Professional Theatre,” a panel discussion with playwright and actress T. Cat Ford and actors Paul L. Coffey, Scott Sowers, Adrienne Thompson and David Van Pelt, moderated by Keith T. Martin, Blackburn Distinguished Professor of Theater in the Department of Theatre, Plemmons Student Union’s Blue Ridge Ballroom.
11-11:50 a.m., concurrent sessions: “Signature Theatre and the Non-Profit Regional Theatre Movement in America” with James Houghton, Belk Library and Information Commons Room 114; Beginning Level Master Acting Class with Paul L. Coffey for Watauga High School students, I.G. Greer Studio Theatre; “Writing Place,” a craft lecture with Leslie Maslow and Dr. Derek Davidson from Appalachian’s Department of Theatre and Dance, Room 421 Belk Library and Information Commons.
Noon-12:50 p.m., concurrent sessions: “The Surprise Social Entrepreneur,” a craft lecture with Laura Callanan, wife of the late Romulus Linney, Belk Library and Information Commons Room 114; Intermediate Level Master Acting Class with T. Cat Ford and Scott Sowers, I.G. Greer Studio Theatre; Advanced Level Acting Master Class with David Van Pelt and Adrienne Thompson, I.G. Greer Studio Theatre. The public is invited to view the master class.
2:30-3:30 p.m., Master class for select theatre majors with Laura Linney, Valborg Theatre. Limited seating is available for the public and tickets, which are free, are required. Visit http://www.library.appstate.edu/collections/sc/linney.html and click on register.
4-5 p.m., Dedication and opening of the Romulus Linney Papers and Exhibit with speakers Frank Coffey, who was a cousin of Romulus Linney, and Dr. Susan S. Cole. Paul L. Coffey will read from Linney’s unfinished novel and Dean of Libraries Dr. Mary Reichel will speak, Belk Library and Information Commons Room 114. Refreshments will be served in the library’s room 421.
7:30-9 p.m., “Romulus Linney … Back Home in the Mountains: A celebration of Romulus Linney,” with Louis Asekoff, Paul L. Coffey, T. Cat Ford, James Houghton, Scott Sowers, Adrienne Thompson and David Van Pelt. Valborg Theatre. Admission is $25. Tickets are available from the Valborg Box Office weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., or by calling 800-841-2787 or 828-262-3063.
9 p.m., Champagne and dessert reception, Turchin Center for the Visual Arts, $25. Tickets are available from the Valborg Theatre Box Office weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets also may be purchased by calling 800-841-2787 or 262-3063.
Linney, author of more than 30 plays and three novels, died in January 2011 at the age of 80.
His inspiration for his early works was drawn from his ties to northwestern North Carolina. Although he was born in Philadelphia, Linney lived in the South until age 13, including Boone and Tennessee, where his father was a doctor. He spent time in Boone with his cousins Frank Coffey and the late Armfield Coffey, both of whom he considered brothers. Armfield Coffey was publisher, along with his wife Rachel Rivers-Coffey, of the Watauga Democrat newspaper.
Linney also maintained ties to Appalachian State University and its Department of Theatre and Dance. In 1998, the department produced his play “Heathen Valley,” about a 19th-century Episcopal bishop who brought the word of God to a remote region of North Carolina. The play was adapted from Linney’s novel of the same name.
Linney traveled to Boone to talk with the student actors about the play. In 1995, Linney received an honorary doctorate from the university and was the speaker at the undergraduate commencement that year. He was the Belk Distinguished Lecturer in the summer of 2005.
He was commissioned to write the play “Hisself,” loosely based on Appalachian’s cofounder B.B. Dougherty, which was premiered on campus during the university centennial celebration in 1999.
Linney’s other plays with Appalachian themes are “Holy Ghosts,” “Tennessee,” “Sand Mountain” and “Gint.” He also wrote “Old Man Joseph and His Family” (1978), “The Captivity of Pixie Shedman” (1981), “The Sorrows of Frederick” (1991), “Ambrosio” (1992) and “A Lesson Before Dying” (2000) based on the novel by Ernest J. Gaines.
The Romulus Linney collection includes his correspondence, manuscripts, working copies of his works with notes, and a collection of his published writings and research materials. The donation also includes photographs of his productions and of family members, recordings of his lectures, production posters, theatre programs from his produced plays, reviews, and awards and honors.