Tales of Trees And Turpentine
“Bleeding Pines of Turpentine: A Cultural Theater Production,” a multi-arts performance that tells the story of Southern Pines’ trees and how they’ve shaped the community, will be presented at 7:30 p.m., on Saturday, Nov. 5, in Owens Auditorium at Sandhills Community College.
The performance is sponsored by the Walthour-Moss Foundation, Sandhills Community College Fine Arts Department, and the Arts Council of Moore County. The program will be the first time the play has been performed in its entirety, with new scenes, additional dancers, and a cellist and violinist. Joining the cast will be DanceFusion, the resident dance company of the Carolina Performing Arts Center, along with photographer Caroline Young and the St. Andrews Presbyterian College Pipe Band.
The performance is free, but an entry ticket is required. Tickets are available in Southern Pines at the Arts Council of Moore County, The Country Bookshop and Traveling Chic Boutique, and in Pinehurst at the Given Memorial Library and the Sandhills Community College Library.
“Essentially, it is a minimalist dance/musical drama offered in celebration of our community’s heritage,” says Owen. “The thrust of cultural theater comes from the layering of various artistic elements, and the inclusion of performers whose roots are represented by the theme. This anchors the story within powerful cultural intersections, thereby offering a new brand for an old inheritance.”
At the center of the dramatization is a story Owen wrote for PineStraw titled “The Siren of the Round Timber Tract.”
“At the turn of the 20th century,” says Owen, “Helen Boyd Dull took a carriage ride up the eastern hill above the train depot in Southern Pines, into the region’s last great stand of virgin longleaf pines. Here she encountered turpentiners working in the dying forest. There were scores of trees whose sides were stripped of their bark, their carved faces a ghostly white from dried rosin. Moved by what she saw, she asked her father, industrialist James Boyd, to buy the land and spare the trees. As a result, many of the old-growth pines survive today, scattered throughout the Weymouth subdivision and in the adjacent Weymouth Woods Nature Preserve.”
The play originally opened during the Palustris Festival last March, with two back-to-back performances at Old Bethesda Presbyterian Church in Aberdeen. On Aug. 5 of this year, 11 cast members of “Bleeding Pines of Turpentine” set off for a performance at Warrenpoint Town Hall in Ireland.
“Performing in Ireland was a truly life-changing experience,” says Owen. “The response to the piece was similar to the response we received back home at Old Bethesda, and we found this most gratifying. Throughout our nine-day tour, members of the troupe were asked to perform numerous times in a variety of venues, including a traditional Irish music session and at the crowning of the Maiden of the Mournes ceremony. Several times we encountered people who had seen the show, quoting lines from the piece that meant the most to them — none of us could ever have imagined this happening.”
A panel discussion about the play is planned for Sunday, Nov. 6, at 2:30 p.m., at Douglass Community Center, 1185 W. Pennsylvania Ave., in Southern Pines. The panel will consist of noted scholars who will talk about the turpentine industry in North Carolina, the longleaf pine forest and its decline, and the fate of the remaining turpentine trees. George Holt, director of Performing Arts at N.C. Museum of Art, will lead the panel. The event is free and open to the public.
Further information is available by phoning (910) 692-2787 or at www.mooreart.org and www.walthour-moss.org.
Contact Stephen Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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