Dramas and Tales by R. Rex Stephenson Compiled by
Assisted by Avery Ardis in 2013
Appalachian Dramas & Tales Other Published Plays Articles Background More Links Complete List of Plays and Tales by Rex Stephenson (2018 PDF at this link) Bibliography of Appalachian Folktales in Film, Drama and Storytelling Recordings
Appalachian Dramas and Tales
Note: Links on titles of individual folktales are to bibliography pages in this web site with details on multiple variants of that tale, including Stephenson's dramatizations, and several tales in story form are in AppLit's Fiction and Poems section. Links on publishers and some play titles are to publisher web sites where scripts and related materials are available. Many articles listed on the lower part of this page give details and comments about plays listed on the top half of the page.
"Ashpet." 1998. See Grandmother Tales below. This is Stephenson's first Appalachian folktale dramatization focusing on a female hero, performed many times by the Jack Tale Players through 2012.
"Catskins." A story theatre adaptation performed by The Jack Tale Players, created in 2007, also performed in 2010 spring-summer tour. Ferrum College. Unpublished. See Stories My Kinfolk Told to Me, below.
Charity for All. Videocassette by WBRA-TV, Roanoke, VA, 1980. Video supported by Virginia Foundation for the Humanities Resource Service. (VF79-18). VFH Catalog: "Surveying the dislocated world of post-Civil War Franklin County, Virginia, this drama, created by faculty and students at Ferrum College, focuses on the complex and volatile social relations with which a Union Army officer, who represents the Freedmen's Bureau, must contend. 60m; 1/2", 3/4"; $3." Produced at Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre in 1980 and 1981. Won award in National Archives Playwriting Competition. See also dissertation White Column Mansions, below.
Faith of our Fathers: A Historical Dramatization of the Founding of Franklin County, 1986. 2 videocassettes (VHS, 135 mins.) Notes from WorldCat: Recorded live on September 25, 1986. Covers the period 1611-1786 in Franklin County history. "Though in the main true to the facts of history, the author has in some instances had to use his imagination in telling the story of Faith of Our Fathers." Presented by the Bicentennial Commission, Franklin County, VA.
Folklore to Theatre. 1 sound cassette from American Theatre Association Convention, New York, NY, August 1982. Abstract: Speakers discuss Ferrum College's project to dramatize traditional Appalachian mountain folklore. Participants: R. Rex Stephenson, chair; Roy Talbert and Lowell Swortzell, panelists.
Grandmother Tales: Mutsmag and Ashpet, Traditional Tales from the Blue Ridge Mountains. Woodstock, IL: Dramatic Publishing, 2012. With Background on the Tales and Questions for Discussion by Tina L. Hanlon. This play that includes the tales "Ashpet" (1998) and "Mutsmag" (2000) was first performed in Dec. 2003 at Radford University's Pridemore Playhouse (photo of "Ashpet" at left). Originally published Charlottesville, VA: New Plays for Children, 2004. Excerpt available at Dramatic Publishing web site. See also "Mutsmag," below.
"Jack and the Giants." Retold in 2010, based on script "Jack Fear-No-Man." Full text in AppLit.
"Jack and the Hainted House," in story form with introductory article by Joe Kennedy. Roanoke Times & World-News 31 Oct. 1992: Extra 1.
"Jack and the Hainted House" in Nellie McCaslins Creative Drama in the Classroom and Beyond (editions 4–8). 8th ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 2005, p. 173. In story form with guidelines for dramatization.
"Jack and his Lump of Silver." Blue Ridge Traditions [Rocky Mount, VA], July 1995. Also in ALCA-Lines: Journal of the Assembly on the Literature and Culture of Appalachia, vol. VI, Fall 1999, pp. 6-7. Full text reprinted in AppLit. Also reprinted as one of four tales in the Virginia section of The United States of Storytelling: Folktales and True Stories from the Eastern States. Ed. Dan Keding. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited, 2010. A retelling of the tale from Franklin County, VA, as told to Stephenson by Raymond Sloan in the 1980s.
"Jack and the King's Girl." ALCA-Lines: Journal of the Assembly on the Literature and Culture of Appalachia, vol. IX (2001), pp. 14-15. Tale collected in 1979 from a patient in a VA hospital in Louisville, KY. Also published with guidelines for dramatizing with children, in Nellie McCaslins Creative Drama in the Classroom, 5th ed. (New York: Longman, 1990). Also printed in Stephenson's 1994 "Teacher's Guide." Full text in AppLit with suggestions for using the story as dramatic play.
Jack in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Tallahassee, FL: Eldridge. Previously published as Jack Tales Too! Stories from the Blue Ridge Mountains. Encore Performance Publishing, 2004. Includes "Jack's Mother's Second Marriage," "Foolish Jack," "Jack and the Mean Old Man," "Soldier Jack." Click on thumbnail at right for performance photo. Stephenson wrote a play produced at BRDT in 1982 called Early's Light, based on the same local legend as "Jack's Mother's Second Marriage," about the widow of Jubal Early's brother and her attempt to remarry. Encore also published Jack Tales: A Song Book (2004, 43 pp.), with twelve songs to accompany performances of Stephenson's Jack tale dramatizations and My Travels with Cecil, all arranged by Emily Rose Tucker. Reprinted by Eldridge as Jack Tales Study Guide/Songbook (65 pp.). Nine are traditional folk songs that Stephenson's Jack Tale Players would sing at performances. "The Jack Tales Song" (to the tune of "Old Joe Clark") and "Jack and the Mean Old Man" (to the tune of "John Henry") have lyrics by Stephenson. "Send the Light" is an original gospel song with lyrics by Stephenson and music by Todd Necessary. In "The Jack Tales Song," Jack and his brothers, Bill and Tom, "are the meanest boys around"; bad luck follows them but "never brought them down," and they always run away, "'cause it was all in fun."
Jack's Adventures with the King's Girl. Orem, UT: Encore, 1999. Reprint by Eldridge. Dramatic adaptation combining "Hardy Hard Head" and "The Hainted House." IUPUI National Youth Theatre Playwrighting Competition award for "Excellence in Playwrighting" for this script in 1996.
"The Jack Tale Players Presents The Jack Tales: Teacher's Guide for Use in Conjunction with the Performance of Jack Tales." Hurt, VA: Artistic, 1994. N. pag. Parts of this guide are reprinted in AppLit at Activities to Accompany Study of Dramatizations by the Jack Tale Players, and The Script as Story Theatre, and Jack and the King's Girl. Revised as A Study Guide For The Jack Tales: Dramatizing Traditional Folklore Of The Blue Ridge Mountains. Orem, UT: Encore Performance Publishing, 2003.
The Jack Tales: Folk Stories from the Blue Ridge Mountains. Introduction by Nellie McCaslin. Schulenburg, TX: I. E. Clark, 1991. Reprint Woodstock, IL: Dramatic Publishing/Family Plays. Story theatre adaptations as performed by Ferrum College Jack Tale Players. Contains "Jack Fear-No-Man," "Wicked John and the Devil," "Jack and the Robbers," "Foolish Jack," "Jack and the Witchs Tale," and "Jack and Ol' Greasy Beard." Excerpt available at Dramatic Publishing web site.
The Jack Tales. VHS Videocassette. Ferrum, VA: Ferrum College, 1990. 42 min. Produced in association with I. E. Clark and Media Link Production. Film editing by Charles Roark. Video of three Jack Tales, directed by Rex Stephenson and performed for a middle school audience by the Jack Tale Players: "Jack Fear-No-Man," "Wicked John and the Devil," "Jack and the Robbers." Available in YouTube with title "The Jack Tales Adapted by Rex Stephenson," uploaded by Tina Hanlon, Jan. 26, 2018. (The very beginning was lost by the original videographer so it seems to start abruptly.)
"The Jack Tales," in Eight Plays for Youth: Varied Theatrical Experiences for Stage and Study. Ed. Christian H. Moe and R. Eugene Jackson. American University Studies Series XXVI: Theatre Arts. Vol. 8. New York: Peter Lang, 1991. Stephenson's script includes three tales with background on the playwright, Jack Tales and story theatre: "Jack and the Robbers," "Jack and the Three Giants," and "Greasy-Beard."
Jack Tales Too! See Jack in the Blue Ridge Mountains, above.
A Movement to Lead. Videocassette (VHS, 60 min.) produced at Ferrum College, 1993. The video is available at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities web site. Notes from WorldCat: "The meeting with Wilson depicted in the play is based on an actual meeting between Wilson and Monroe Trotter, Du Bois's close friend. Many of the speeches and all of the ideas are drawn directly from Washington's and Du Bois's writings and speeches. ...'A Movement to Lead' is a project that examines Booker T. Washington's and W.E.B. Du Bois's ideas regarding race relations. The project has several parts: this guide, a photograph and artifact display, and a dramatic enactment of an imagined meeting between the two men. The goal of the project is to stimulate discussion about race relations in the twentieth century and to increase understanding about this important issue." Participants in post-play discussion: Lewis Rogers (Chief Ranger at Booker T. Washington National Monument), Rex Stephenson (Playwright and Drama Professor), Michael Trochim (Project Historian and History Professor), and Jody Brown (Project Director, Moderator and Fine Arts and Religion Chair at Ferrum College).
Mutsmag. Published in AppLit, 2002. Online picture book adaptation of the script, with illustrations by children in grades K-3 (Franklin County, VA), who saw the Jack Tale Players perform "Mutsmag" in its first season, spring 2000. See also Grandmother Tales, above."Mutsmag." In Crosscurrents of Children's Literature: An Anthology of Texts and Criticism. Ed. J. D. Stahl, Tina L. Hanlon, and Elizabeth Lennox Keyser. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2006, pp. 401-09. The script of "Mutsmag" appears in Part 3, Oral and Written Literary Traditions, with a reprint of "Munsmeg," the oral tale collected by Richard Chase from the James Taylor Adams Collection. See the Crosscurrents companion web site for more on Appalachian selections and oral traditions in this anthology.
My Travels with Cecil. Orem, UT: Encore, 2002. Reprint Leicester Bay Theatricals, 2018. A play with traditional music about British ballad collector Cecil Sharp's visit to Franklin County, VA in 1918. "This play dramatizes the true story of Cecil Sharp's journey throughout the Appalachian Mountains in 1916 to discover English ballads still surviving in America."
The Roar of the Silence. A play about race relations in Franklin County, VA, about minstrel shows and the only race riot in Rocky Mount, set in the late 19th century. Videocassette by WBRA-TV, Roanoke, VA, 1981 (58 min., 20 sec.). See also dissertation White Column Mansions, below.
Stories My Kinfolk Told to Me. A play about family storytelling, in which "Catskins" (see above) and "Two Lost Babes" (see below) are dramatized. Unpublished. This play won the Floyd Community Theatre Guild playwriting competition in 2017. Earlier in 2017, Todd Necessary’s drama class did a reading of the play at Marion High School, and it was produced by students at Forest Park High School in Woodbridge, Virginia, under the direction of BRDT alumna Lori Spitzer-Wilk.
The Three Old Women's Bet. Schulenburg, TX: I. E. Clark, 2002. Reprint Dramatic Publishing. Folktale about friends who hold a contest to see who can make her husband look more foolish.
Too Free for Me. Tallahassee, FL: Eldridge Plays and Musicals (replacing original publisher, Encore), 1998. Award-winning play based on local Franklin County history about a black woman who sued to prove she was free, helped by the white woman she had grown up with and her lawyer Jubal Early. This play was the first production of Ferrum College summer theatre in 1979 (later the Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre). It won the American Alliance for Theatre and Education award in 1995. Video production supported by Virginia Foundation for the Humanities Resource Service (VF78-77). VFH Catalog: "Developed by faculty and students at Ferrum College, this program brings to life the trial of a black, female, Franklin County resident who, in 1851, brought charges of assault against a local landowner who had refused to acknowledge her free status and right to marry. 60m." Videocassette by WBRA-TV, Roanoke, VA, 1979. See also publisher's description and Review by Lana A. Whited and Ferrum College press release on 2004 production. (Discussion of play and background on main character Indiana Choice at Betty Choyce web site—no longer online.) See also more photos and details in Facebook photo album, including Todd Necessary's production at Marion High School, VA, in 2012-13, which won awards at all levels of state drama competition. See also dissertation White Column Mansions, below.
"Two Lost Babes." This is a folktale adaptation performed in the Jack Tale Players' summer tour, 2006, revised with new music in 2009. Unpublished. Study guide by Thomas Townsend at this link. For background and links to related tales, see also The Babes in the Woods and The Two Lost Babes and Hansel and Gretel. See Stories My Kinfolk Told to Me, above.
White Column Mansions: Three Original Plays Based in Local History and Folklore: A Process for Developing Local American Historical Materials into Theatrical Productions. Ph. D. Dissertation. New York University, 1983. University Microfilms International, 1986. Includes the scripts of Too Free for Me, Charity for All, and Roar of the Silence, with many details about productions of the plays at Ferrum College and research on the value of dramatizing local history.
Wicca. Published in online journal Nantahala: A Review of Writing and Photography in Appalachia. Issue 1:01, Nov. 2001. A drama about love and jealousy, revenge and witchcraft in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Produced at Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre in 1982.
Top of Page
Rex Stephenson (center) playing Gresham Choice in 1991 production
of his 1979 historical play Too Free for Me
Complete List of Plays and Tales (2020 PDF at this link)
Other Published Plays by R. Rex Stephenson
The Adventures of Huck Finn, with music by Jon Cohn and C. Michael Perry. Orem, UT: Encore Performance Publishing, 2002. Reprint Leicester Bay Theatricals . Based on the novel by Mark Twain.
And the Rains Came. . . and Came, with music by Gary Evans. A musical in two acts based on the Noah story. Charlottesville, VA: New Plays for Children, 2000. Reprint Newport, ME: Leicester Bay Theatricals . With Resource Guide by R. Rex Stephenson and Nellie McCaslin. See photo below near article by McCaslin.
A Christmas Carol. Adapted from Charles Dickens. Schulenburg, TX: I. E. Clark, 2000. Reprint Dramatic Publishing. Reprint Leicester Bay Theatricals, 2018. For video of a complete performance, see Dickens' A Christmas Carol - Act 1 and Dickens' A Christmas Carol - Act 2. YouTube, uploaded by Tina Hanlon, June 28, 2017. Directed by a member of the original Ferrum College cast, Anthony Pica, at Menchville High School, Virginia, December 2015.
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court: Adapted from Mark Twain's Novel. Tallahassee, FL: Eldridge, 2000. (Eldridge Author Info on Stephenson). Click here for photo of original production at Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre.
The Cricket on the Hearth: A Christmas Musical (Based on the Dickens story). Music and Lyrics by C. Michael Perry. Leicester Bay Theatricals, 2008. This adaptation was first written as a project funded by the Appalachian College Association in 2002, performed at Ferrum College, Alice Lloyd College, and Kentucky Christian Univ. It was first produced as a musical by the BRDT in 2008, with music by Emily Rose Tucker. See radio play below.
The Cricket on the Hearth, with Jody D. Brown. Leicester Bay Theatricals, 2018. Staged radio play based on Charles Dickens' third Christmas story (1865) and performed for WVTF public radio listeners at Christmas 2017. As a full-length play by Stephenson, it was funded by the Appalachian College Association and performed at three colleges in 2002 (Ferrum C, Alice Lloyd C, KY Christian U). As a musical play with music by Emily Rose Tucker, it was performed by BRDT in 2008.
Daniel! A Musical Based on the Bible Story. Book and Lyrics by R. Rex Stephenson. Music and Lyrics by C. Michael Perry. South Jordan, UT: Encore Performance Publishing, 2005. Reprint Leicester Bay Theatricals. Also listed by affiliated publisher Zion Theatricals.
Galileo, Man of Science: A Drama for Young People Based on the Life and Scientific Discoveries of Galileo, with co-author Mike Trochim. Lyrics and music by R. Rex Stephenson and Jon Cohn. Charlottesville, VA: New Plays for Children, 1995. With Teacher Resource Guide. Reprint Woodstock, IL: Dramatic Publishing. Excerpt available at Dramatic Publishing web site.
Glorious Son of York: A Play for Two or More People about King Richard III. Encore Performance Publishing, 2000. Revised and reprinted by Leicester Bay Theatricals, 2016.
Just So Stories—the Musical. Adapted by R. Rex Stephenson and Emily Rose Tucker. Tallahassee, FL: Eldridge, 2007. Music CD available with cast set from Eldridge.
Kipling's Just So Stories. Adapted by R. Rex Stephenson. Tallahassee, FL: Eldridge, 2007. (Non-musical script).
Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, with music by Jon Cohn. Orem, UT: Encore Performance Publishing, 1996. Revised reprint Tallahassee, FL: Eldridge, with music by Jon Cohn and Emily Rose Tucker (with no new copyright date, published after BRDT 2009 production). Audio file, production photos, a condensed one-hour script, and other materials available at Eldridge web site.
The Liberated Cinderella, or, The Return of the Godfather, a One-act Comedy, with co-author Ginny Stephenson. Schulenburg, TX: I. E. Clark 1974. Published in Braille in Canada by Atlantic Provinces Special Education Authority Resource Centre for the Visually Impaired, 2002. Reprint Dramatic Publishing. Reprint Leicester Bay Theatricals, 2018.
Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain. Salt Lake City, UT: Encore Performance Publishing, 2004. Reprint Tallahassee, FL: Eldridge. An adaptation based primarily on Twain's Tom Sawyer, Detective, combined with material from Life on the Mississippi and Tom Sawyer Abroad. "The play celebrates the adventurous spirits of young men as they take on new challenges, conquer great barriers, and at the end, are the same two mischievous boys that are icons of American literature" (Stephenson, "Thoughts on the Play"). Click at right for photo.
The Prince and the Pauper: Based on the Mark Twain Classic. Orem, UT: Encore Performance Publishing, 2002. Revised reprint Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper. Tallahassee, FL: Eldridge .
Rudyard Kiplings The Jungle Book. Charlottesville, VA: New Plays for Children, 1998. With Study Guide by R. Rex Stephenson and Tina L. Hanlon. Reprint Newport, ME: Leicester Bay Theatricals .
Treasure Island. Adapted from Robert Louis Stevenson. Schulenburg, TX: I. E. Clark, 1995. Reprint Woodstock, IL: Dramatic Publishing. Press release on Dec. 2001 production at Ferrum College, with photo from 1994 production. Press release "Old Michie Theatre to Present Stephenson’s Treasure Island," Jan. 21, 2005.
The Vision: A Play about John Wesley and the Founding of Kingswood School, with co-author Mike Trochim. Nashville, TN: General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, Division of Higher Education, 1998.
We Band of Brothers: A Musical Farce, with co-author Mike Trochim and music by Jon Cohn. Ferrum College, 1998. Published by Leicester Bay Theatricals, 2018. "A two-act musical about the real life theatrical exploits of Buffalo Bill Cody, Wild Bill Hickok, and Texas Jack — taken a step or two further! The time is 1870, in Chicago, where three legends of the Old West trade their horses and buckskin outfits for make-up and store-bought costumes. Confronted by lines to memorize, Irish stockyard workers as Indians, and an Italian opera singer portraying an Indian Princess and more bizarre casting—this is a true story of American heroes on the stage. The situations are classic. 'Let’s put up a play in five days (one that isn’t even written yet) and become famous, with no professional actors or even any money to mount the show.'"
The World Is My Parish, with co-author Mike Trochim. Ferrum College, 1997. Full-length play and one-act version. Full-length play published by Leicester Bay Theatricals, 2016, with historical background notes. Play about the life of John Wesley (1703-1791)—his personal life and the development of his ministry. The play begins with scenes about his childhood family life and his very influential mother Susanna Wesley, and ends with his death. His brother Charles and other male and female leaders of the Methodist movement are depicted in the drama.
The World of Snow White. Newport, ME: Leicester Bay Theatricals, 2016. Originally produced at the Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre, Ferrum, VA, in July 2000, with the title The New Snow White. This modern adaptation based on varied classic source materials brings some of the darker situations of many versions of the story from around the globe together in one script. The legends and stories of a Snow White character come from more than 30 countries around the world, including Albania, Turkey, England, Mozambique, Germany, and France. These international influences lend a new vision to the characters in a unique play for any group to produce. This adaptation places a stronger emphasis on the loving relationship between Snow White and her father, the king, than many older tales in which the fathers did not have active roles in raising or rescuing their daughters. Can be played with 20 actors of different ages, or, ideally, 30-35. Produced at William Byrd High School in spring 2016 (see photos in Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre Facebook page albums.) See also AppLit page on Snow White tales.
Rex Stephenson (left) performs with the Jack Tale Players
in Woodstock Georgia, May 2002
Articles by R. Rex Stephenson
Brown, Jody and R. Rex Stephenson. "The Folk Tales of the Eastern Blue Ridge." Blue Ridge Folklife Festival. Blue Ridge Institute, Ferrum College, 22 Oct. 1983. pp. 7-8. This essay includes background on regional storytelling, with mention of folk collectors Cecil Sharp and Richard Chase, and discussion of tales such as "Jack and the Bean Tree" and "Jack and the Hidden Valley" (collected by Leonard Roberts in South from Hell-fer-Sartin). It discusses Raymond Sloan's telling in 1980 of the only Jack tale collected in Franklin County, "Jack and his Lump of Silver," and other tales Sloan heard from his father and collected for the WPA. "Early's Light" is a local legend about Jubal Early's brother's ghost and his widow. The discussion of the cultural and educational significance of the folktale ends with this statement that was often used in publicity materials of the Jack Tale Players: “Far from being minor amusements, folk tales put us in touch with the values of people. They affirm the creativity of people and show the power of stories in transmitting cultural principles.” Includes one photo of Raymond Sloan and one from VA State Library of Richard Chase earlier in his life reading a story with children. Essay reprinted in Blue Ridge Parkway: Agent of Transition. Eds. Barry Buxton and Steven M. Beatty. Boone, NC: Appalachian Consortium Press, 1986, pp. 167-72 (full text available in JSTOR database 9/24/18)..
Hanlon, Tina L. and R. Rex Stephenson. "Adapting Folktales for the Stage: Collaboration Between the Literary Critic and the Playwright." Papers presented at the Fourth Biennial Conference on Modern Critical Approaches to Children's Literature, Nashville, April 7, 2001.
Hanlon, Tina L. and R. Rex Stephenson. “Interview with Rex Stephenson on The Jack Tale Players.” Guest blog. Home to Author-Illustrator-Teacher-Speaker Elizabeth O. Dulemba. 7 Jan. 2016. (Blog later renamed Elizabeth Dulemba a.k.a. e: Living Outside the Lines.) Article with photos celebrating 40th anniversary (which was Dec. 11, 2015) and history of Stephenson's Jack Tale adaptations and storytelling .
Stephenson, R. Rex. "Aurand, the Mentor." Aurand Harris Remembered: A Monograph Celebrating America's Giant Playwright for Little People. Ed. Olin Corey. Louisville, KY: Anchorage Press, 1999, pp. 29-30. The article describes a visit to Ferrum by Aurand Harris (1915-96), late in his life, when he helped Stephenson with the scripts for Galileo and "Hardy Hard Head." They made plans for Harris to return and direct his play The Orphan Train in Ferrum, but he did not live long enough to return; Stephenson directed the play in Fall 1999 at Ferrum College.
Stephenson, R. Rex. "Drama Company Arrives for Work." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 13 June 2008, p. A7. Short article about 2008 Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre company of 20 actors from 10 different states, who are "certainly above average in acting and singing abilities. They are currently touring Franklin County elementary schools, performing the Jack Tales."
Stephenson, Rex. "Feedback and Followup." The Ferrum Review, no. 7, Spring 1988, pp. 27-29. The article is introduced as an offshoot of Stephenson's work with John Hodgson and his writing of historical plays. It gives guidelines for obtaining feedback from audiences, including followup workshops with audiences after performances, and evaluating audience feedback in relation to views of the director and acting company.
Stephenson, R. Rex. "The Jack Tales of the Southern Appalachian Area." Ferrum Review, Spring 1976.
Stephenson, R. Rex. Review of Jack and the Devil's Purse: Scottish Traveller Tales by Duncan Williamson. Appalachian Journal, vol. 39, Summer/Fall 2012, pp. 356-58.
Stephenson, R. Rex. "Mark Twain." Children's Theatre Educational Resource Guide. Little Rock: Arkansas Arts Center, 2002-2003, p. 19. Available as PDF file 4/3/04.
Stephenson, R. Rex. "Not All Road Shows Tour Europe: Lukewarm Coffee and Endless Roads are Overshadowed by the Audience's Response." Geriatric Nursing, Winter 1987. Article about the Jack Tale Players' nationwide USO tours to VA medical centers 1978-82. PDF copy at this link, with photos similar to the one at right.
Stephenson, R. Rex. "The Premier Season of Wysor's Grand Opera House, 1892-93." MA Thesis. Indiana State University, 1973. 131 pp. Thesis about a Muncie, Indiana theater.
Stephenson, R. Rex. "A Way to Begin: The Narrative Story Expansion." Virginia English Bulletin, Spring 1992.
Stephenson, R. Rex, and John Hodgson. "Feedback and Follow Up." Virginia English Bulletin, Spring 1995. See article with the same title listed under Stephenson above.
Stephenson, R. Rex, and Emily Rose Tucker. "The Making of a Musical." Aquila Review, vol. 1, Fall 2008, pp. 61-67. Article about collaborative writing of musical plays. Available as PDF online.
Other Articles and Background
Note: Articles with missing or incomplete dates and even unidentified publication title were clippings in the files of the Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre and Jack Tale Players. Missing information will be added later where possible. Links to articles from news sources and college or university pages may change periodically. Please send questions or corrections to Tina L. Hanlon.
Alderson, Laura. "Ferrum Constructs Replica of Theater for Merry Wives." Roanoke Times and World News, 1 Dec. 1977, p. C8. Short article on Merry Wives of Windsor directed by Rex Stephenson. Includes a photo of his replica of the Globe Theatre in the lower level of the Ferrum College theatre building.
"All American, All-Star USO Show, or, 'Who Needs Bob Hope?'" The Jack Tales. Facebook.com, 6 July 2012. Article with photos, in Facebook Notes, on Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre show July 5-7, commemorating 30th anniversary of USO tours by the Jack Tale Players. Compiled by Tina L. Hanlon.
Allen, Mike. "A Final Glimpse of the Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre on Saturday." The Roanoke Times, Arts & Extras with Mike Allen, 21 Oct. 2012. Roanoke.com. Article about reunion show of the Jack Tale Players at Ferrum's Blue Ridge Folklife Festival, after the final season of the Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre and Jack Tale Players ended in August.
Allen, Mike. "From Sunday's Column: Twain's Last Lecture at Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre." The Roanoke Times. Arts & Extras with Mike Allen, 6 Aug. 2010. Roanoke.com. Article with photo of Rex Stephenson as Mark Twain (photo at right), ending a 40-year series of performances based on Twain's last lecture tour in 1909. This year's performances mark the 100th anniversary of Twain's death. [Stephenson actually performed the Twain show again in 2013.]
"Alumni, Arts, and Ferrum." Ferrum Magazine, Ferrum College, Winter 2011-12. Web and print. This page on several alumni who had different majors in the arts begins with a brief history of the Jack Tale Players, photo of a fall 2011 performance, and profile with recent photo of freelance opera and theatre director Brian Robertson '83, who "credits the Jack Tale Players with giving Ferrum students 'a taste of professional theatre.'"
"And The Rains Came…and Came." New Plays for Children's Theatre, Fall 2000. Article on Stephenson's play about Noah, And The Rains Came…and Came, in publication of New Plays publisher, with a photo of performers Nellie McCaslin as Noah's mother and Mike Trochim as Noah.
Angel, Gary and Faye. "A Review of 'Blue Suede Shoes II.'" The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 23 June 2010, p. A7. Review of new musical revue by Rex Stephenson and Emily Rose Tucker, directed by Stephenson.
Appalachian Storytelling Event. Appalachian Studies Program. Virginia Tech, 2013. Organized by Robin Kaufman and Anita Puckett. On June 24, 2013, children made quilt squares and recorded their own audio stories or responses to Jack Tales after seeing Rex Stephenson and Emily Blankenship-Tucker tell stories (photos of storytelling at this link). Some of the children added another animal into "Jack and the Robbers," such as an owl that is stuck in its nest and then after Jack helps it out, the owl helps Jack scare the robbers. One child imagined Jack living in the robber's house and another mansion until he was 111 years old! This site includes review of the day's activities with tales and quilts, reading list, and links. PDF flyer for this Appalachian Studies event for children.
Archer, Polly. "The Enjoyment of a Good Story." Pulaski Co. Library Corner. The Southwest Times, 11 July 2004. Column with discussion of storytelling, story theatre, and the Jack Tale Players, announcing a performance at the Fine Arts Center in Pulaski, Virginia, July 12. "Storytelling at its best."
Ardis, Abigail. "Smoke on the Mount is a Hoot." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 12 July 2006, p. 4-A. A review of Smoke on the Mountain, directed by Stephenson at the BRDT.
"Artist-In-Residence Sets 'Comedy of Errors' to Music." The Ferrum College Bulletin, Fall 1978, p. 6. Reprint from Roanoke Times [Roanoke, VA] written by Jeff Debell, 25 Oct. Review of Comedy of Errors, directed by Stephenson and performed in the Globe II Theatre constructed within Schoolfield Hall. With five photos of the cast from the play and a photo of Paul Todd with Rex Stephenson. Todd, 25, from England, was an artist-in-residence at Ferrum who set the Shakespeare play to music with lyrics from Shakespearean texts.
Beach, John. "The Audience Was Made to Feel Good…" The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 2000. A review of All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten directed by Rex Stephenson at the Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre. Included is a photo of actors James Wood, Rebecca Morris, Nikki Payne and Anthony Pica.
"Bedford Youths Take Part in Ferrum College Drama." The Bedford [VA] Bulletin-Democrat, 8 Jan. 1976. With a photo of Laura Davis and Ronnie Davis, both of Bedford, and Gail Epps of Fredericksburg. Article about the Jack Tale Players' first tour to about twenty schools around the state in January 1976, sponsored by the Virginia Commission for the Arts and Humanities. The article explains that Stephenson and eleven students, the actors in "Jack Tales: A Children's Participation Drama," perform "many roles in the play since the characters exchange parts at the beginning of each tale."
"Beowulf: Ferrum Play Combines Old and New." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 13 Nov. 1987, p. 14. A review of Beowulf directed by Rex Stephenson, with a photo of the Beowulf set at Ferrum College.
"Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre." Roanoke Times [Roanoke, VA], 24 July 1998. Short article on Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court with photo of Jody D. Brown and Hal Blankenship.
"The Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre." Roanoke Times [Roanoke, VA], 5 June 2008. Short article about the BRDT's 29th season with photo of the season cast.
"Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre Expands with Rocky Mount Venue."The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 22 Oct. 2008. Half-page article on BRDT's Cricket on the Hearth, with photo of Jody D. Brown and Emily Rose Tucker.
"Blue Suede Shoes Production is Set." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA]. Unidentified date. This show was performed in 2009 and 2010. Short article on Blue Suede Shoes. Photo of the cast included.
"BRDT Opens 27th Season." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 17 Apr. 2006, pp. A1, 8. Short article on The Odd Couple directed by Rex Stephenson at the Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre.
"BRDT Presents The Littlest Shepherd." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 2 Dec. 2009, p. A8. Short article on BRDT performing The Littlest Shepherd written by Rex Stephenson and Emily Rose Tucker. Photo of Jody D. Brown, Jeffrey Dalton, and Kristina Stump included.
"BRDT Presents Sanders Family Christmas." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 23 July 2008. Short article on The Sanders Family Christmas. Photo of Chandra Diesel and Nate Bursma.
"BRDT Production." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 11 Apr. 2007, p. B8. Short article on Nunsense. Photo of the cast included.
"BRDT Production." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 25 July 2007, p. A6. Short article on Tom Sawyer: The Musical. Two photos of Stephenson's new adaptation from Twain, with music by Emily Rose Tucker. Alex Malone as Tom, Mick Trochim as the narrator, and Tucker as Becky Thatcher are in one photo. The other shows twelve area children dressed as a band of pirates.
"BRDT Production Schedule." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 9 May 2008, p. A3. Photo of Victoria Parker, Emily Rose Tucker, Jody D. Brown, Willette Thompson, and Morgan Price in the musical Nunsense II The Second Coming, directed by Stephenson.
"BRDT to Hold Auditions for Upcoming Season." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA] 18 March 2012. Article includes overview of 33rd season of BRDT and fall 2011 photo of The Jack Tale Players.
"BRDT to Open 25th Season." Clipping with unidentified source and date, probably The Franklin News-Post May 2004. Short article about the third annual Food Bank Benefit Show opening the BRDT season with special music. Two photos of Boones Mill Elementary School choir, directed by Emily Rose Tucker, and Ferrum Elementary School choir, directed by Fair Robey.
"BRDT to Present 'Too Free for Me.'" Clipping with unidentified source and date, probably The Franklin News-Post July or June 2004. Short article on 25th anniversary production of Too Free for Me, which "explores issues of freedom, loyalty, friendship and family and compassion and courage." Photo of Rex Stephenson and Jody Brown with representatives of underwriter BB&T, Tricia Custer and Dick Shoemaker.
"BRDT to Present The World is My Parish." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 11 June 1997. Short article on BRDT's The World is My Parish. Photo of Michael Trochim and two fellow cast members included.
Brown, Jody D. "25 Years of the Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre." Followed by profile of theatre graduate Kara-Beth Oliver '96 (p. 23) and then "Spotlight on R. Rex Stephenson: Artistic Director, Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre, 'Believer in the Ensemble of Life.'" Ferrum Magazine, Winter 2004, pp. 20-25.
Brown, Jody and R. Rex Stephenson. "The Folk Tales of the Eastern Blue Ridge." Blue Ridge Folklife Festival. Blue Ridge Institute, Ferrum College, 22 Oct. 1983, pp. 7-8. This essay includes background on regional storytelling, with mention of folk collectors Cecil Sharp and Richard Chase, and discussion of tales such as "Jack and the Bean Tree" and "Jack and the Hidden Valley" (collected by Leonard Roberts in South from Hell-fer-Sartin). It discusses Raymond Sloan's telling in 1980 of the only Jack tale collected in Franklin County, "Jack and his Lump of Silver," and other tales Sloan heard from his father and collected for the WPA. "Early's Light" is a local legend about Jubal Early's brother's ghost and his widow. The discussion of the cultural and educational significance of the folktale ends with this statement that was often used in publicity materials of the Jack Tale Players: “Far from being minor amusements, folk tales put us in touch with the values of people. They affirm the creativity of people and show the power of stories in transmitting cultural principles.” Includes one photo of Raymond Sloan and one from VA State Library of Richard Chase earlier in his life reading a story with children. Essay reprinted in Blue Ridge Parkway: Agent of Transition. Eds. Barry Buxton and Steven M. Beatty. Boone, NC: Appalachian Consortium Press, 1986, pp. 167-72.
Brubaker, Tammy. Letter to The Drama Club, Ferrum College. Callaway School, Dec. 11, 1975. MS. After the Jack Tale Players' first official performance at her school, 4th-grader Tammy wrote, "I am really glad you could come and do all those Jack tales for us today. I hope you can come back again in the 76 year. I really appreciated it. I liked the dance, when Ma was getting married and when Jack was going to get her head chopped off best. You can act really good. I don't see how you do it. One of my classmates was a flowergirl in Ma's wedding. Her name is Teresa Nichols. She acted good, but not as good as you!" Brubaker was identified nearly forty years later as a teacher at Franklin County High School. This letter is copied in the Jack Tale Players web site and "The Jack Tales" Facebook Notes.
Burchette, Linda. "MSHS Drama Students Take First at Regional Competition." SWVAToday.com, 23 Nov. 2012. Accessed 13 Nov. 2017. Another article, "Hurricane Players To Bring Performance to Marion," appeared in the same publication, 2 Jan. 2013, with quotations by Stephenson, Necessary, and cast members in the production of Too Free for Me directed by Todd Necessary at Marion High School. Although the performance date is unclear in this article, the performance of Too Free for Me at the Lincoln Theatre was Jan. 5, 2013.
Calos, Katherine. "Minstrel Show Spotlights 1890s Prejudice." The Richmond News Leader, 15 Feb. 1984. With photo of Stephenson as narrator and others in the play. "With flashing lights and red satin tuxedos and lively banjo music and racist jokes, Rex Stephenson is making a point about prejudice." At Richmond public schools, "26 students and professors from Ferrum College danced and sang their way through the true story of Nannie Woods," a black woman who was blamed for a warehouse fire in 1889 in Rocky Mount. The article explains the true post-Reconstruction story researched by history professor Charlie Wall. Ferrum music professor Wayne Nelson wrote the music. When the townspeople began to doubt the death sentence of a pregnant black woman, who was pardoned much later by the governor, "their unspoken awareness of prejudice was the roar of the silence." The play notes that by the time Woods was released, Jim Crow laws made discrimination lawful. "This was the first time that the Ferrum troupe has played 'Roar of the Silence' to a predominantly black crowd, Stephenson said. 'They take it hard when I say, "Have a seat, black folks, at the back of the bus." They take it hard for poor Nannie and this miscarriage of justice.'... By the time the students left, Stephenson said, he hoped they would feel not anger but understanding. 'I hope they understand a little about their grandparents' heritage, what it was like to have been black and white then.'" He commented on finding solutions instead of responding to problems with anger.
Calos, Katherine. "Play's Script Culled from Diaries, Records." The Richmond News Leader, 2 July 1981. Article about Too Free for Me and also historical materials used for the following play, Charity for All. Stephenson says in the article that Cassandra Choice testified in a way that could hurt her husband in Indiana Choice's trial because "Her logic is that Indiana always has been her friend, and that friendship is more important than duty." About the conflicting loyalties depicted among Southerners, blacks, and Yankees in these plays and his work-in-progress The Roar of the Silence, Stephenson said, "All there are are questions. There is no answer in that period." A photocopy of this article is Appendix E, on p. 400 of Stephenson's dissertation White Column Mansions.
Calos, Katherine. "Richmond Reporter Impressed with Play." Clipping with unidentified source and date, probably Ferrum College Bulletin. Short article about the Jack Tale performances around the Richmond area, with two photos of the Jack Tale performers. Reprint of Calos article from The Richmond News Leader–see below. This version has a photo of the Jack Tales cast with names and hometowns listed and Roddy Moore and Rex Stephenson, and photo of three musicians: "Music for 'Jack Tales' was provided by Laura Davis...Ronnie Davis and Gail Epps."
Calos, Katherine. "Simple Jack Tales Educate." The Richmond News Leader, 16 Jan. 1976, p. 6. Several photos show actors performing in the round in "Foolish Jack," actor Wanda Edwards telling "children of origin of tales," and very young students at Clark Springs Elementary School who "find drama intriguing." The lead says "A simpleton named Jack has been giving some sophisticated lessons in play-acting to students in Richmond public schools." Tales in which Jack "outwitted a king, his mother, three more foolish people and a 'mean old man'.... help them learn the difference between fantasy and reality." The article explains the origins of the folktales and Stephenson's three adaptations. His research since the previous September had turned up "more than 40 tales.... Stephenson started casting for the play in November and put it on the road in January." He is quoted as saying, "'The play is based on the best of the tales,...but the actual script was composed by the drama students. They reviewed the tales and then improvised to see what worked. Everyone had a part in writing the final draft.' There is only one copy of that final draft, he added, because he wants to copyright the play. To make sure the tales he included were authentic, Stephenson talked with mountain people who remembered the Jack tales." In 2011, the 36th year of the Jack Tale Players, Stephenson was still crediting this article and its headline with making his Jack Tale adaptations popular and acceptable to school principals in a time when regional folklore was not always viewed as a positive influence in the schools.
Campbell, David B. "'Mrs. California' is a 'Poignant' Comedy." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 20 June 2008, p. A2. Review of play by Doris Baizley, directed by Stephenson. Other articles on the same play include "Carter Bank Underwrites BRDT Production." The Franklin News-Post, 19 May 2008, p. B3 (article with photo about Mrs. California); "Mrs. California Opens This Week at BRDT." The Franklin News-Post, 18 June 2008, p. A5 (article with photo of actors).
Campbell, Sarah. "Underdog on Top in the Jack Tales." Salisbury Post.com, 21 Feb. 2013. Article with 7 photos about Piedmont Players' production of six Jack Tales (by Stephenson) in Salisbury, NC. A straw hat that starts out on a wooden chair "transforms" each fifth-grade actor "into an underdog named Jack who outwits robbers, giants, witches, devils and big brothers."
Capps, Sharon. "Author Richard Chase Comes to Ferrum. "The Iron Blade [Ferrum College, VA], 22 Oct. 1976, p. 4. Richard Chase visited Ferrum Oct. 12-15, in the second year of performance of Stephenson's Jack Tale adaptations. Chase "told tales, went through a training workshop, taught folk dances and critically evaluated [Stephenson's] 'The Jack Tales.'" Quote from Stephenson: "Our whole theory of doing the show is that we don't play for children, we play with them." "Approximately 15,000 children have seen the 'Jack Tales' production this year." Two photos of Jack Tale Players included along with another article by Melissa Powell.
"Carter Bank Underwrites BRDT Production." The Franklin News-Post, 19 May 2008, p. B3. Article with photo about Mrs. California at BRDT.
"Children's Play Presented." Henry County Journal [Henry, VA], 2 Dec. 1976, p. 6. Article about the Jack Tale Players in their second year of touring, performing at John Redd Smith Elementary School in Martinsville. Photo of the Mike Gish, Cathy Rix, and Ben Goggin performing.
"Collector of Jack Tales Returns to Ferrum College in a One-Person Show." Ferrum College, 6 Feb. 2003. Press release on Tradition Will Never Die, one-man show on Richard Chase, written and performed by Ferrum College drama senior Tony Pica. The show includes a retelling of "Jack and the Robbers." Directed by Stephenson, who played the off-stage character of Marshall Ward introducing Chase to the Jack Tales.
Combs, Wanda. "Spinning Tales." The Floyd Press [Floyd, VA], 22 Oct. 1987. Four photos by Combs of "Jack Tale Singers" performance at Willis Elementary School.
The Commercial Appeal [Danville, VA], 6 Dec. 1976, p. 21. No title. Photo of Stephenson and his Jack Tale troupe performing at G.L.H. Johnson School in Danville for third and fourth graders. This was nearly one year after the first Jack Tale show at Callaway Elementary school (12/11/75).
"Community Arts Festival Set." Clipping with newspaper title and date unidentified, in papers of the BRDT/Jack Tale Players, Ferrum College (probably Martinsville paper, 1977 or 1978). Article about a Community Arts Festival presented by the Piedmont Arts Association at Lynwood House includes two photos of the Jack Tale Players from performances at the Ferrum Folklife Festival. The Jack Tale Players, who had two traveling troupes at this time, are called one of "two outstanding events of the festival."
Cook, Bill. "A Review of 'The Curious Savage.'" The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 4 July 2012, p. A4. Review of comedy by John Patrick, directed by Rex Stephenson at the Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre. In the "brilliant" cast, Jody D. Brown starred as Ethel Savage, who is admitted to a mental institution by her stepchildren trying to gain control of her fortune. The review also praises Rachel K. Blankenship, playing a haughty stepdaughter so angry "the audience can feel the heat beaming out her flushed face," and Emily Rose Tucker's "flamboyant depiction" of Fairy May, a lovable, child-like mental patient. The June 25 issue of the paper (p. A3) included a photo of Tucker and Brown in the play that started June 26.
Corwin, Rachel. "A Review of BRDT's 'Just So Stories.'" The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 3 Aug. 2012, p. A3. "This delightful stage adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's children's stories is a must-see!" The review pays tribute to retiring BRDT directors Rex Stephenson and Jody D. Brown and to the Jack Tale Players: "the BRDT has been a lantern of culture in the mountains of Franklin County....We are so grateful to Jack Tales and to Rex and Jody for their generous contributions to our community!"
"County Legend Produced Into Play." The Franklin County Times, 25 Dec. 1975. With a photo of Stephenson, Mike Gish, and Nancy Ward. Local article about the Jack Tale Players in their first month of performances in schools. The article explains the origins of the Jack Tales, especially one from Franklin County that "came from an interview with Miss Elsie Turner. It involves the family of Jubal A. Early's brother who lived near Windy Gap Mountain in the 1800s." In the legend, Early's sons try to prevent the remarriage of his widow, their mother, by digging up their father's coffin and bringing it to the wedding. The mother marries the farm overseer anyway but the legend says "a light can be seen going back and forth between Early's burial place and the home," implying that he is still trying to stop his wife from remarrying. Jack is one of the brothers in the dramatized version. (See details on later remake of this tale as "Jack's Mother's Second Marriage.") The research and dramatization were supported by funds from the Virginia Commission for the Arts and Humanities.
“Critic Views Jack Tales.” The Franklin County Times [Rocky Mount, VA], 3 Nov. 1997. Two photos of Jack Tale Players and of Rex Stephenson with Nellie McCaslin and Dudley Elementary principal. McCaslin, president of the Children's Theatre Association in New York, spent three days observing the Jack Tale Players in schools.
Crow, Peter. "'We Band of Brothers.'" The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 24 June 1998. A review of We Band of Brothers: The Cowboy Musical, written by Rex Stephenson and Mike Trochim for BRDT, with music by Jon Cohn.
"CU Theater to Present 'The Jack Tales." The Princeton [WV] Times, 6 Nov. 2017. Article about production of Stephenson's The Jack Tales at Concord University, Athens, WV, Nov. 8-11, 2017, directed by Karen Vuranch. The tales in this show included "Jack Fear No Man," "Wicked John and the Devil," "Jack and the Witches," "Jack and Old Greasy Beard," and "Jack's First Job" (which is not part of Stephenson's script).
"'The Curious Savage' Starts June 27." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 25 June 2012, p. A3. Photo of performers Emily Rose Tucker and Jody D. Brown with brief information on performances of The Curious Savage at BRDT.
DeBell, Jeff. "Ferrum Production Amateurish, Nice." Roanoke Times and World News,17 Nov. 1979. About Too Free for Me.
"A Different Kind of Wealth and Love." By Lauren, Guest Panther Blogger (last name not given). The Ferrum Blog, 12 July 2012. Blog essay by a Ferrum College student who traveled to Honduras for the E-Term class Spanish 451, Service Learning in Honduras, with Dr. Patty Suppes in May 2012. "We flew out of America after a three-day preparation for our trip in which we transformed an old Jack Tale Players script of Cinderella into a puppet show. We hand-crafted puppets, made up silly dances, and even incorporated songs from After Jack (a band created by Ferrum College professor Emily Rose Tucker)." Includes photos of the students' puppets and Honduran children making bag puppets, and a video.
"Dinner Theater Group Transforms TV Show into Musical." Roanoke Times [Roanoke, VA], 21 July 2006. Article about BRDT's Kids Say the Darndest Things.
"Dinner Theatre Production is Set." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 30 May 1986, p. 5. Article on Arsenic and Old Lace at BRDT. Photo of Karen Crawford and Kirk Cash included.
"Don't Give Up the Ship." Roanoke Times and World News, 23 July 1993, p. Extra 3. Photo of a scene from O'Callahan, the Man Who Saved the Ship That Wouldn't Die, performed at the Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre. "The play chronicles the actions of the crew of the USS Franklin after it was struck by armor-piercing bombs off the coast of Japan on March 19, 1945."
"Down Home Tales." Bedford Bulletin [Bedford, VA], 1 June 1988, p. A6. Photo of Rex Stephenson holding the washboard in a Jack Tale Players performance at Bedford Elementary School.
"Drama Classes Offered at Jonesborough Repertory Theatre." A! Magazine for the Arts, vol. 14, no. 1, Jan. 2007. Arts Alliance Mountain Empire. Includes account of Jonesborough Repertory Theater winning award of excellence for production of Stephenson's Jack Tales, with photo of cast and director.
"Draper Featured in Jack Tales." 17 Nov. 1977. Article on freshman Leslie Allen Draper Bassett performing with the Jack Tale Players. Clipping with unidentified newspaper title in papers of the BRDT/Jack Tale Players, Ferrum College. Draper described long auditions that led to being chosen as one of seven new performers, and said, "I do anything from playing my autoharp to selling a cow in one of the plays." He had "traveled with the group to Newport New's [sic] Folklife Festival, the International City Management Association Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, and several churches and schools." He commented on the many ways performers were inspired by their director Rex Stephenson. A photo and caption focus on the mountain instruments played by performers while children sat on the floor.
"Educational Theatre Degree Established By Ferrum Board." Ferrum College Bulletin, Spring 1979, p. 9. Article describes the degree program developed by Stephenson in 1979, which included a semester of study at New York University and an internship, as well as experience with Ferrum's drama companies. Next to the article is a photo of Stephenson with the Jack Tale Players, a publicity photo for their USO tour in Southern and Midwestern states May 21-June 4. The previous page contains a Jack Tales performance photo and article by Chris Gladden on development of a historical drama (see Gladden below).
Edwards, Laurie Borslien. "Play It Again and Again." Smith Mountain Lake.com, 25 June 2010. Article with two photos on continuing success of Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre and Jack Tale Players for over 30 years. Reprinted in AppLit at this link.
Emery, Millicent Martin. "No Pressure: Playwright to Watch Stage One Performance." Pal-Item: Part of the USA Today Network, 20 April 2017. Article about production of Stephenson's adaptation of Treasure Island at Stage One Youth Theatre in Richmond, Indiana. It was directed by Alisa Clapp-Itnyre, "an IU East English professor who volunteers at the theater. She said Stephenson's 90-minute adaptation stays true to the book without cutting important parts or characters. About 35 youth are in the cast, and 10 in the pirate chorus will sing Victorian songs from the book's era before the play and at intermission." Stephenson visited Richmond to see the play.
Engstrom, Delia. "Forest Park Students Perform Original Children's Play 'Stories My Kinfolk Told To Me.'" The Fauquier Times/Prince William Times [Warrenton, VA], 6 Apr. 2017. Article about premier of Stories My Kinfolk Told to Me, directed at Forest Park High School by former BRDT performer Lori Spitzer-Wilk. One performance photo from the "Two Lost Babes" section of the play is included (copied at right). "The Forest Park production is interactive and geared for a young audience, but the stories have a universal appeal. Performing the play is a unique opportunity for students to learn more about Southern Virginia culture and to try their hands at an original script, Spitzer-Wilk said. Students are 'excited to be able to premiere this play because all other presentations of it in the future will compare to Forest Park’s,' said senior Daniel Sims, 18. 'It’s nerve-wracking because none of us are thinking on a kid’s level, but we will respond to the reaction they give us during the play and give it back to them.'"
"Ferrum College." Delta Psi Omega Playbill. vol. LI, no. 2 (no date, apparently 1977), pp. 22-23. Annual publication of Delta Psi Omega Theatre Fraternity. Review of Ferrum Little Theatre's productions of 1976. Four photos depict Ray Knotts in Inherit the Wind; Rex Stephenson playing Mark Twain in William Dean Howells' The Mousetrap; Chris Philips, J. P. McNally, and Lee Walker in The Time of Your Life; and the Jack Tale troupe in their second year, having "played to more than 32,000 children and adults in Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, and New York City. . . in the New York Youth Theatre Festival held annually on Memorial Day weekend in Central Park." "Last year's officers were Mike Lish [sic–probably Gish], president; Joan Steube, vice president; and Eugene Riley, treasurer. Reported by Rex Stephenson, Advisor."
"Ferrum College." Delta Psi Omega Playbill, vol. LII, no. 2, 1978, pp. 14-15. Annual publication of Delta Psi Omega Theatre Fraternity. Short article on Jack Tales at Ferrum with reference to 1977 Playbill (above). "Jack Tales" has been performed for more than 55,000 people from New Orleans to the South Bronx. A "bold new adventure" is a series of educational videos produced with the Boutecourt [sic] School System and WBRA-TV of Roanoke, with topics covering various ethnic and social groups. An Elizabethan playhouse has been constructed at Ferrum and plays including The Merry Wives of Windsor have been performed. Six photos show the Elizabethan playhouse (in lower level of Schoolfield Hall), The Merry Wives, and filming in Roanoke.
"Ferrum Drama Tour." Virginia Advocate, 22 Jan. 1976. The United Methodist Church. Same photo as in "Two Performances" article (see below), of Wanda Edwards of Goshen, Julie Moore of Roanoke, and Elliott Stone of Martinsville sharpening an ax in a scene from the show. Short notice about the Jack Tale Players' first tour of Virginia in Jan. 1976. "In addition to school performances, the cast appeared last week in special showings at the United Methodist Children's Home and the Hermitage in Richmond."
"Ferrum Folklore Troupe Will Perform at Festival." Roanoke Times, 24 May 1977. Article about the Jack Tale Players' performance at the Fourth Annual New York Youth Theater Festival in New York City's Central Park, with photo of Rex Stephenson. He commented on preparations for performing with microphones for much larger audiences of 10- to15,000 people outside the players' own region. He planned to use the tale "Jack's Mother's Second Marriage" the most because it played well to large crowds. The tale was based on a local legend found in Burnt Chimney, "Early's Light." Performances in the Bronx were planned as well, with members of both the Jack Tale Players and the Jack Tale Storytellers forming a group of 11 performers and one stage manager for this trip.
"Ferrum Gets $14,568 Grant." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA] 13 Dec. 1979. Ferrum College's summer theatre, after its first season performing Too Free for Me, was awarded a grant from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and Public Policy to support actor salaries, costumes, make-up, sets, and travel for a second year. Associate Dean Doug Foard had rewritten the grant application with the title "Portraits in Black and White." (These details are from Stephenson's dissertation White Column Mansions, pp. 82-83.)
"Ferrum Players Complete Va. Tour with 'Jack Tales': Over 7,090 View Play." Ferrum College Bulletin, Feb. 1976. Article about the Jack Tales' "whirlwind tour" through southwestern and central Virginia, with photo of Michael Gish, Nancy Ward and Rex Stephenson (the caption erroneously says Michael Gish is on the left but Stephenson is on the left). Stephenson researched the folktales at the Library of Congress and he and Roddy Moore conducted other research on about 45 tales, including interviewing Blue Ridge people who recalled the tales. Mr. M. G. Goodpasture, Director of Program Support for the college, assisted in obtaining a grant from the VA Commission for the Arts and Humanities to perform in elementary schools. Eleven college students helped develop the play through improvisational methods and children participated during performances. Stephenson commented on never getting tired of the tales even with 3 or 4 performances in the same day: "It's just something about performing before children that gives you the strength to keep going and working to please them."
"Ferrum's 'Jack Tales Play' to Be Presented Locally." The Commercial Appeal [Danville, VA], 29 Nov. 1979, p. 17. Article with one photo of Patty Lenke, Ronnie Davis, and Gail Epps playing "old mountain tunes" arranged by Ronnie and Gail. A performance at Danville elementary schools "is part of a statewide tour financed partially by a grant from the Virginia Commission for the Arts and Humanities." In the second year of receiving state grants, Stephenson commented, "The interest we experienced last year and so far this year has been phenomenal."
"Ferrum Students to Give Original Children's Play." Danville Bee [Danville, VA], Dec. 1976. Short article on upcoming school performances by the Jack Tale Players. "A grant from the Virginia Commission for the Arts and Humanities has enabled the Ferrum Jack Tale Players to tour the state for two years playing to about 8,000 elementary students last year and a projected 20,000 this year." Exact date not given on clipping; this was about one year after the first Jack Tale show at Callaway Elementary School (12/11/75).
"Ferrum Theatre to Present Stephenson's 20th Play." Article on We Band of Brothers, co-written by Rex Stephenson and Michael Trochim. Clipping with unidentified source, in papers of the BRDT/Jack Tale Players, Ferrum College.
Fisher, Peggy "A Review of 'Fools.'" The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 18 June 2007, p. 3. Review of Neil Simon's Fools directed by Rex Stephenson at the Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre. The setting of a Ukrainian village was "humorously reworked into the doomed village of Irish Fork Creek—somewhere in Rockingham County," where the inhabitants are considered stupid until they break a 200-year curse. Songs by the local band create scene transitions and "creatively announce the entrances of the infamous Joe Clark."
"Five-Day Theatre Tour of New York City Planned." Ferrum College Bulletin, Winter 1979, p. 11. Description of April 9-12 tour with photo of Rex Stephenson (copies archived in Ferrum College library).
"Folklore Comes to Layton Elementary." The Fairfax Times [VA], 12 Nov. 1998, pp. A1, 3. Short article with 5 photos: Cliff Todd proposes to child playing princess in p. 1 color photo while Stephenson narrates; Cliff Todd leads helpers in magic land ship in "Hardy Hard Head"; Jody Brown takes aim as Shootwell; Rebecca Morris demonstrates the limber Jack; and children watch the Jack Tale Players. Local officials used the performances to bring together elementary students from different city schools that would be consolidated in future.
"Folk Tales." Potomac News, 12 May 1978, p. 4. Short article with photo about a Jack Tale Players performance at the Potomac Library.
"Folktales for Families." The Roanoke Times, 8 July 2004. Good to Go column. Announcement of Jack Tale shows in Floyd and Montgomery County libraries, funded by Virginia Commission for the Arts.
"For Twenty Years, They've Been Telling Tales: The Jack Tale Players." Blue Ridge Folklife Festival program, 28 Oct 1995. Two shows by the Jack Tale Players were scheduled, as well as a Storytelling Stage with Orville and Ray Hicks, Norman Kennedy, Bobby McMillon, Jimmy Costa, and other storytellers. "Something as simple as a father reading a story to his daughter over twenty years ago sparked a thought that gave birth to one of America's best storytelling troupes." Stephenson told about thinking of the "dramatic possibilities" of Richard Chase's Jack Tales while reading them to his daughter Janice. "My first production of the Jack Tale Players was to a second grade class in a Ferrum Elementary School hallway, and since then we have performed not only in Virginia, but as far-ranging as the South Bronx in New York City and at a school in England. During the past twenty years, I have never stopped the research, nor the visits to the mountain families, for the heart of the dramatized Jack Tales is their ability to allow us inside a truly unique American culture." After background on Richard Chase's folktale collections and the character of Jack, the article says, "These Jack Tales, a true mix of American culture in the Blue Ridge Mountains mixed with stories from the Old World, may have been missed by thousands without the night of storytelling to one's daughter. Through the hard work of Richard Chase, Rex Stephenson, the Blue Ridge Institute, and others, not only have the stories been preserved, but their efforts and the work of the Jack Tale Players have brought them to life for today's children to pass along someday to their children. Includes a list of this year's cast and comment that "Ferrum College Jack Tale Player alums have gone on to professional careers in theater, television, and education over the past two decades." Two stories on the same and preceding page tell about other storytellers at this festival (see also "Spinning Yarns" in Background Resources on Appalachian Folktales).
"Four Plays, Shows Slated." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 1997. Short article about the 1997 summer theatre season at Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre.
Fox, Margalit. "Nellie McCaslin, Professor and Children's Theater Authority, Dies at 90." The New York Times, 12 Mar. 2005. The obituary for Stephenson's mentor at New York University ends with this quotation: ""She was very well loved down here," said R. Rex Stephenson, artistic director of the Blue Ridge Dinner Theater in Virginia, who cast Dr. McCaslin in several shows [in her late 80s], including a production of 'Steel Magnolias' last year. 'She's probably the only person that could cash a check from New York in Rocky Mount, Va., because everybody knew who she was.'" The article also says, "Though drama by and for children is considered a ghetto by many theater professionals, to Dr. McCaslin it was a serious artistic enterprise. Theater, she wrote in a 1990 article, 'is finding recognition as an art that contributes to the emotional, intellectual and social development of the child.'"
"Framed in Franklin Premiers." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 2 July 1990. Short article on Framed in Franklin County, written by Janice Scudder and directed by Rex Stephenson at BRDT, with two photos from the play.
Gladden, Chris. "Study of Slavery in Franklin County Prompts Drama." Ferrum College Bulletin, Spring 1979, p. 8. Gladden was a staff writer for the Roanoke Times & World News. The article about the development of drama based on a historians' report on race relations in Franklin County includes a sketch of Booker T. Washington and Jubal Early by Robert Lunsford of the Roanoke Times, as well as a photo of the Jack Tale Players, who would develop the drama. The history research at Ferrum College explored ways that slavery and race relations in Franklin County were different from circumstances and attitudes in the deep South. Stephenson is quoted as saying, "I think we'll step on some toes and shake up the audience." This article was written before the drama Stephenson developed in 1979 focused on Indiana Choice's lawsuit against Gresham Choice. See later article by Trudy Willis, below, on the 1979 play Too Free for Me.
"Good Feelings Come From Tour." Roanoke Times & World-News, 5 Dec. 1978, p. C2. With one photo of several Jack Tale Players performing. Leslie Draper of Bassett, VA was one of 9 Jack Tale Players who toured 16 hospitals in VA, NY, PA, and NC Nov. 20-Dec. 1. He reported after the first USO tour that "the students felt duly appreciated...when one member of an audience along the way shouted out, 'Who needs Bob Hope?'"
Green, Linda. "Play Shows United Methodists' 250 Year Involvement in..." Worldwide Faith News, 19 June 1998. Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org. Article on 1998 premier of The Vision, Nashville, TN.
Griffin, Alison. "Jack Tales Put Children In the Mood for Action." Richmond Times-Dispatch, 4 Mar. 1977, p. B9. During a week-long tour of Virginia schools supported by the Virginia Commission of the Arts and Humanities, the Jack Tale Players had city children at Southampton Elementary School "yelling and laughing and clicking their fingers and dancing in the aisles with the players.... Props were few and far between, there was no scenery or costumes, the food and the stairs and the deep well were imaginary, yet the troupe whisked the audience of 500 children off to fantasy land in a matter of minutes." Photo of children dancing on stage with performers.
"Guest Director Combines Love of Shakespeare, Children's Theatre." Clipping in papers of the BRDT/Jack Tale Players with no newspaper title or date given (ads are for Farmville stores). The article says Stephenson is 45 years old and had taught at Ferrum for 15 years so it's from c. 1988. The long article with one photo of Stephenson summarizes his career and his
"Gulliver's Travels." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 16 Mar. 1984, p. 10. Includes two photos of the Gulliver's Travels cast, directed by Stephenson at Ferrum College.
Hagy, Al, Sr. "A Review of The Cricket on the Hearth." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 5 Oct. 2008. A review of adaptation of a Charles Dickens story, written and directed by Rex Stephenson at the Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre.
Hailey, Diane. "Foundations of a Legacy." Article on retirement of President Jerry Boone includes Ferrum Timeline with "Rex Stephenson takes 'Jack Tales' to England," 1990, and "Jack Tales Celebrate 25 years," 2000. Ferrum Magazine, Winter 2004, pp. 12-17. Available online at www.ferrum.edu.
Hairston, Douglas. "Jack Tales Worth Telling." Martinsville Bulletin [Martinsville, VA], 11 July 2004, Accent p. 1. Article about Jack Tale Players performances at area libraries and middle school, with details about the tales and their history. Color photos of Rex Stephenson and of performers Caroline Simons, Emily Ocheltree, Zach Arnold, and Emily Rose Tucker also included.
Hanlon, Tina L. "Blue Ridge Adaptation of Heidi Closes Season at Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre." 2011. Full text in AppLit. Parts of this article were presented at the Children's Literature Association Conference at Hollins University in June 2011, at the Virginia Humanities Conference in March 2012 at Roanoke College, and in a faculty reading for the Hollins University Graduate Program in Children's Literature on July 25, 2012. In its original version as a news release, it appeared in The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 4 Aug. 2011. Many photos of this production, by Ken McCreedy, are available in the Ferrum College Flickr albums.
Hanlon, Tina L. "Capturing Characters on Stage for the College and Community: An Interview with Playwright Rex Stephenson." Virginia Libraries, vol. 54, nos. 3 & 4, 2008, pp. 7-12. Available as PDF at journal web site. Includes discussion of research, Jack Tale Players history, Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre, past plays, and 2008 plays When the Lights Go On Again and Little Women: A Musical. Photos by Jeff Dalton (at left, Stephenson with John Isner, Kenny Barron and other Jack Tale Players at Rocky Mount Farmers' Market, July 2008). Reprinted at ilovelibraries.org, American Library Association, July 2009. Also reprinted in PLC Blog by C. Michael Perry (with his prefatory comments about working as a consultant at the Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre in 2002), at Leicester Bay Theatricals web site, 28 Aug. 2018.
Hanlon, Tina L. "Chinese Students Learn Jack Tales." In The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 19 June 2006, with headline "China Students Learn about Jack Tales." Full text in AppLit at this link (with many typos corrected that were inserted by the newspaper). Article on Jack Tale Player Thomas Townsend teaching Stephenson's Jack Tale adaptations to students in China.
Hanlon, Tina L. "Digging Deeper in the Oral Tradition: Faculty/Student Research on Appalachian Folktales." Presentation based on research by Tina Hanlon, student N. Michelle Vincent, and Rex Stephenson, at Appalachian Studies Association Conference, Dayton, Ohio, Mar. 18, 2006.
Hanlon, Tina L. "From Fool of the World to Regional Trickster: Adaptations of European-American Folktales in Appalachia." Paper presented at Congress of the International Research Society for Children's Literature, Trinity College, Dublin, Aug. 14, 2005.
Hanlon, Tina L. "Jack Tales." The Oxford Encyclopedia of Children's Literature. Vol. 1. Ed. Jack Zipes. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. Available online to subscribers of Oxford Reference.
Hanlon, Tina L. "The Jack Tales in Appalachia." "On Writers and Writing": Papers Presented at the Virginia Humanities Conference, March 28-30, 1996. Charlottesville: U of VA, 1996.
Hanlon, Tina L. “Mutsmag, Appalachian Folk Heroine, and her European Ancestors.” Full text in AppLit, 2016. Originally presented at Congress of International Research Society for Children’s Literature, Worcester University, UK, Aug. 11, 2015.
Hanlon, Tina L. "Old and New Stories from Appalachia." The Five Owls, No. 3, 2003, issue on The New South. Reprinted in this web site. Overview of Appalachian fiction for children includes mention of Stephenson's folktale adaptations.
Hanlon, Tina L. "Oral Traditions and Modern Adaptations: Survey of Appalachian Folktales in Children's Literature." Paper presented at Appalachian Studies Association Conference, Knoxville, TN, March 26, 2000, revised in AppLit 2004.
Hanlon, Tina L. “Regional Adaptations of Wonder Tales: Strong Women in Appalachia.” Paper with PowerPoint slides presented at International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, Orlando, Florida, March 18, 2016. Includes discussion of Stephenson's adaptation of "Mutsmag" and mention of "Ashpet" and The New Snow White (play published in 2016 as The World of Snow White).
Hanlon, Tina L. "Snow White and Mutsmag in Appalachia." Paper with PowerPoint slides presented at Children's Literature Symposium, University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee. Feb. 3, 2012. Includes discussion of Stephenson's folktale adaptations, especially "Mutsmag." Abstract: Comparing Appalachian adaptations of “Mutsmag” and “Snow White” in various media reveals differences between retelling less familiar tales of strong women and girls, making them known to a wider audience, and adapting tales that are so widely known that adapters have more freedom, perhaps, to transform or complicate the plot and blend a variety of other intertextual and intercultural references into familiar frameworks.
Hanlon, Tina L. "Strong Women in Appalachian Folktale Dramatizations by R. Rex Stephenson," 2001-2002. Full text in AppLit.
Hanlon, Tina L. Strong Women in Appalachian Folktales. The Lion & the Unicorn, vol. 24, April 2000, pp. 225-46. Full text available through library services such as Project Muse.
Hanlon, Tina L. "Three Recent Developments in Appalachian Fiction for Children: Regionalism in a New Century." Paper presented at Children's Literature Association 36th Annual Conference: The Best of Three, Charlotte, NC, June 12, 2009. Includes Stephenson's "Two Lost Babes" in the category of adaptations of Appalachian folktales with contemporary innovations: this "2006 story-theatre adaptation satirizes contemporary eating habits when two witches try to fatten up two lost children with junk food. This dramatization is based on folktales collected in southwestern Virginia and elsewhere in Appalachia, like many other adaptations Stephenson has written and directed for his Jack Tale Players since 1975, but this is the first time he incorporated such overt treatment of a current social problem into an Appalachian tale. I was extremely skeptical about any attempt to insert a didactic theme into a traditional tale, but it actually works very well for the scenes in which cannibalistic witches are fattening up children they have imprisoned, to stress that junk food provided by adult characters is the quick and unhealthy way to put on weight. It’s hilarious when a giant platter of candy and fast food containers appears onstage, the characters sing about all kinds of enticing foods (including children the witches hope to eat with ice cream while they 'merrily / Listen to them scream'), and the defeated witches turn into vegetarians at the end. I think Anne Shelby (author of The Adventures of Molly Whuppie and Other Appalachian Folktales) and Rex Stephenson have been retelling Appalachian folktales for so long, to mostly Appalachian audiences, that their revisions to old tales don’t seem artificial; their mastery of the traditional language and rhythms of mountain tales enables them to weave in modern themes that work within the old storylines. Moreover, it helps refute the stereotypical view that regional folklore and culture are quaint relics from the past when the tales are retold in traditional ways while addressing contemporary issues."
Hanlon, Tina L. “Too Free for Me: Playing Historical Figures in Virginia Theatres and High Schools.” Paper with PowerPoint slides presented at Children’s Literature Association Conference, Biloxi, Mississippi, June 13, 2013. Essay and photos on the BRDT productions of this play 1979-2004, and Todd Necessary's award-winning production at Marion High School in 2012-13 (see also Burchette articles, above, and photo album in The Jack Tales Facebook site).
Hanlon, Tina L. "Vital Words and Actions in the Work of May Justus and Richard Chase." Full text in AppLit. Originally presented at Appalachian Studies Association conference, 2005. Includes brief discussion of Chase's work with Stephenson and Jack Tale Players at Ferrum College in late 1970s, with photos.
Hanlon, Tina L. "'Way back yonder, but not so far away': Teaching Appalachian Folktales." Appalachia in the Classroom: Teaching the Region. Ed. Theresa L Burriss and Patricia M. Gantt. Series in Race, Ethnicity, and Gender in Appalachia. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2013, pp. 95-108. Includes discussion of Stephenson's folktale dramatizations and Jack Tale Players, especially his "Mutsmag" adaptations.
Hanlon, Tina L. "Wedding Belles Rings in 30th Anniversary of Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre with Heartwarming Hilarity." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 15 May 2009. Review of Wedding Belles, a new play by Alan Bailey and Ronnie Claire Edwards, directed by Rex Stephenson at the Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre in May and June 2009.
Hanlon, Tina L. and R. Rex Stephenson. "Adapting Folktales for the Stage: Collaboration Between the Literary Critic and the Playwright." Papers presented at the Fourth Biennial Conference on Modern Critical Approaches to Children's Literature, Nashville, April 7, 2001.
Hanlon, Tina L. and R. Rex Stephenson. “Empowering Children through Drama: The Critic’s Perspective and The Dramatist’s Perspective.” Children’s Literature Association Conference, Indianapolis, June 13, 2019. Presentation with PowerPoint slides.
Hanlon, Tina L. and R. Rex Stephenson. “Interview with Rex Stephenson on The Jack Tale Players.” Guest blog. Home to Author-Illustrator-Teacher-Speaker Elizabeth O. Dulemba,7 Jan. 2016. (Blog later renamed Elizabeth Dulemba a.k.a. e: Living Outside the Lines.) Article with photos celebrating 40th anniversary (which was Dec. 11, 2015) and history of Stephenson's Jack Tale adaptations and storytelling .
Hanlon, Tina L. and N. Michelle Vincent. "Studying the Oral Tradition with Folktales in the James Taylor Adams Collection." Presentation at Appalachian College Association Summit, Abingdon, VA, Oct. 27, 2005.
Hanlon, Tina L. and Lana Whited. "Ferrum Performers Keep Jack Tales Alive." ALCA-Lines: Journal of the Assembly on the Literature and Culture of Appalachia, vol. V, 1997, pp. 2023. Full text in AppLit.
Hapgood, Cliff. "BRDT's 'When the Lights Go on Again.'" The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA] 9 July 2008, p. A7. Review of musical revue by Stephenson and Emily Rose Tucker, with photo of Morgan Price, Amanda Carol Pascale, and Emily Rose Tucker.
Harper, Beth. "'Kids Say the Darndest' is a Hit with Audiences of All Ages." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 26 July 2006, p. A3. Review of play directed by Stephenson at BRDT.
"Heidi Adaptation Coming to Ferrum College This Week." News 7 Sunday Morning. WDBJ-7.com, 31 July, 2011. Video and text. Susan Bahorich interviews Emily Rose Tucker and Jody D. Brown about upcoming BRDT musical by Stephenson and Tucker, with rehearsal photos of cast, including Rachel K. Blankenship as Heidi.
"Historical Drama 'Roar of Silence' Opens on July 11." The Ferrum College Bulletin, Spring 1981, p. 2. Short article on plans to open Stephenson's play "based on the evolution of race relations in Franklin County" for 16 performances in July and August, along with performances of Too Free for Me and Charity for All. Stephenson would direct the play and Wayne Bowman would be the producer. Members of the Jack Tale Players would comprise the cast, with Dr. Richard Smith as the project director. The new play would be videotaped for television and tour off campus.
Hockman, Sherry. "Players to Stage Historical County Trial." The Franklin County Times [Rocky Mount, VA], 28 June 1979, p. 7. With one photo of Lee Walker portraying Jubal A. Early in Too Free for Me, questioning Willette Thompson in the role of Indiana. "Franklin County may not be considered one of the frequented sites for making history during wages of war, depression or revolution. But a trial that took place in the county's Circuit Court in 1851 was considered history and perhaps revolutionary because of its nature." The article refers to the Jack Tale Players as professional actors preparing this play (the first summer play for what later became the BRDT) but they were mostly college students. Performances were to be held every Wednesday night from July 4 through Aug. 1, and Saturday, July 21.
Hogston, Po. "Jacks Take Off." The Iron Blade [Ferrum College, VA], 12 Feb. 1981. Archived in Ferrum College's Stanley Library. Article with photo of Stephenson, about success and travels of Jack Tales Traveling Theatre Troupe, at a time when two companies of twenty actors each traveled to locations ranging from nearby Floyd to Los Angeles. "Jack Tales is funded in part by a grant from the Virginia Commission for the Arts and Humanities and is the only such group on campus that is not funded directly from the college." The grant obtained seven years earlier was $1000 to fund expenses such as costumes. Tales mentioned in this article are "Jack and the Mean Old Man," "Foolish Jack," and "Soldier Jack." Stephenson comments on audiences of young and old. He is quoted as saying, "Our performances deal with moral lessons on such things as death or dealing with parents, and one of our shows deals with the use of solar energy." Stephenson notes that in seven years they had "entertained over 140 to 150 thousand people." Theatre Management major David Watson is quoted on benefits of performing and traveling.
"Homecoming is Hot." Roanoke Times [Roanoke, VA], 7 Aug. 2007. Short article on Smoke on the Mountain—Homecoming, a musical directed by Stephenson at BRDT. "It's selling almost too well." BRDT "is only the fifth theater in the country to perform the newest show" about the Sanders Family gospel musicians.
Hudson, Mike. "Replay." The Roanoke Times, 13 July 2004, Extra pp. 1, 6. Article with four photos from new production of Too Free for Me. The photos show Stephenson as Gresham Choice, J. Nikki Payne Dunne as Indiana Choice, Indiana and Cassandra Choice (played by Emily Rose Tucker), and Joe Ray as Jubal Early with other characters in the courtroom. The article explains the history of the Choice trial, the play performed during the BRDT's 25th anniversary season, and the play's "four strong characters." Indiana Choice's suit against Gresham Choice in 1851 "was a strange story, even for a time when the South was ruled by the hypocrisies of the 'peculiar institution' of slavery" (p. 1). "The first performance was a sellout, and since then, 'Too Free for Me' has been staged across Virginia." "The story makes for great drama, Stephenson says, because it involves so many people making difficulty and unusual decisions. 'It's about people,' Stephenson says. 'Any historical drama should be about people not just history'" (p. 6).
Hunt, Kitty. "Jack Tales: Blue Ridge Folklore Comes to Life at Spencer-Penn Elementary School." Martinsville Bulletin, 1 Nov. 1977, pp. A1, 6. Photos of Dr. Nellie McCaslin of New York and Rex Stephenson wearing a dress in a Jack tale. He called "Jack and Old Greasy Beard" the "oldest ever" (6). McCaslin, president of the national Children's Theatre Association and Stephenson's professor in doctoral work at New York University, was visiting to conduct workshops and evaluations of the Jack Tale Players for the Virginia Commission of Arts and Humanities. Stephenson's show had been presented 150 times, with grants paying half the cost and the PTA of each school providing 25 cents per student. The show was performed in the round to allow for participation of children seated on the floor. McCaslin said, "They do an even better job than I'd expected to find" (p. 1). She commented on Stephenson's research, the show's "good taste" in handling themes of death and violence, audience participation, the appeal of the folktales for all ages, and the advantage of bringing college groups into schools rather than more expensive professional actors. McCaslin commented, "I love the music," and said Stephenson "has a great love and respect for his material. I think that this comes across" (p. 6).
"Jack Tale Players Always Entertaining." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 13 July 2012, p. A2. Editorial urging citizens to attend upcoming shows by the Jack Tale Players, who have "entertained countless children and adults" since the mid-1970s.
"Jack Tale Players Are Part of Ridgeway Reading Reward." At A Glance, 9 Feb. 2001, p. 3. Henry County Public Schools newsletter. Short article about the Accelerated Reader celebration at Ridgeway Elementary School including a Jack Tale performance. Photo of the Jack Tale Players included.
"Jack Tale Players Begin Five-State USO Tour." Ferrum College Bulletin, Fall 1978, p. 7. Full-page article with five photos of the Jack Tale Players. Reprint of article "Jack Tales To Do Tour" by Trudy Willis (see Willis, below).
"Jack Tale Players Coming to Pulaski." Article with one photo about the upcoming Jack Tale performance at the Fine Arts Center Annex in Pulaski. Newspaper clipping in papers of the BRDT/Jack Tale Players with no newspaper title or date given (probably 2004).
"Jack Tale Players Entertain Youngsters with Fun, Folklore." Danville Register [Danville, VA], 3 Dec. 1976. Article describing performances of the Jack Tale Players in local schools. "Performing in a small space with few props, the players' animation and movement caught the imaginations of everyone watching." One teacher commented, "I don't know how they keep up the pace!" This was nearly one year after the first Jack Tale show at Callaway Elementary school (12/11/75).
"Jack Tale Players' Event." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 27 June 2008. Two photos of the Jack Tale Players performing at Booker T. Washington National Monument.
"Jack Tale Players Mark 20th Anniversary." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 25 Oct. 1995, Blue Ridge Folklife Festival special section, p. 6. Short article on the Jack Tale Players' history "as one of the nations [sic] leading storytelling organization." Other short articles that announce appearances at the festival by the Jack Tale Players and other storytellers are "Get Set for Tall Tales, Stories at Festival" (p. 5); "Activity Abounds at the 1995 Blue Ridge Folklife Festival" (pp. 13, 15); "Racing Tales to be Featured at Folklife Festival" (p. 18); and "Festival Adds Storytelling Stage" (pp. 11, 13). The latter tells of a storytelling workshop for teachers at Ferrum College on Oct. 27. (See also "For Twenty Years They've Been Telling Tales," above.)
"Jack Tale Players Mark 37th Season." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 16 May 2012. Article about summer season with photo of past Jack Tale show in the Farmers' Market in Rocky Mount. The same information is in a Ferrum College press release, May 11, 2012. The photo shows children from the audience performing with Stephenson and the Jack Tale Players in "Jack and the Robbers."
"Jack Tale Players Receive Critique." Roanoke Times and World-News [Roanoke, VA], 28 Aug. 1978, C3. Short article about positive and negative criticism of the Jack Tale Players and Jack Tale Storytellers at the American Theater Association's 42nd annual convention. Stephenson's was the one children's theater group "selected according to their ability to take criticism" for a workshop on judging performances. They were praised for using regional materials and original research to provide education as well as entertainment. In response to criticism about using girls to play boys' parts, Stephenson observed that this was common practice in Russian theater, and that he wanted girls to get good parts as well as boys. At the beginning of their fourth season, the Jack Tales had been performed for more than 50,000 people.
"Jack Tale Players Set Show At Local Schools." The Register: Danville, Va., 29 Nov. 1979. Article with photo of Joan Steube, Dean Gates, and Jimmy Frye performing. "For two consecutive years the college's drama department has been awarded a state grant to research original mountain folktales and to organize the tales into a children's play, and then to take the play on a tour throughout the state." Stephenson estimates that it was "performed before approximately 8,000 elementary school children" the previous year and 20,000 children this year. Stephenson is quoted as commenting on the "phenomenal" interest the play generated: "This is creative children's drama at its best. It involves participation from the audience and it's a lesson in American folklore, all at the same time." Under the grant from the Virginia Commission of the Arts and Humanities, "another folktales play" was planned for the coming spring, to "most likely center around the historical character of Cecil Sharpe [sic–should be Sharp], an Englishman who toured Virginia's Blue Ridge in the early 1900's to record mountain folktales."
"Jack Tale Players to Compete in Children's Theatre Festival." The Iron Blade [Ferrum College, VA], 23 Feb. 1995. News release about the Jack Tale Players selected by the Southeastern Theater Conference "to perform at the 1995 Children's Theater Invitational Festival in Norfolk on March 2." List of current performers is included.
"Jack Tale Players to Perform at County Libraries." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 13 July 2012, pp. 1, A4. Article announcing upcoming performances at Hollins University July 16 and two Franklin County libraries July 17, with the photo at right showing children from a past audience performing with Stephenson and the Jack Tale Players in "Jack and the Robbers" at the Farmers' Market in Rocky Mount.
"Jack Tale Players to Perform at Folklife Festival." News release about the upcoming 1995 Blue Ridge Folklife Festival's storytelling stage and the Jack Tale Players' 20th anniversary. Newspaper clipping in papers of the BRDT/Jack Tale Players with no newspaper title or date given. See also "For Twenty Years" in the Blue Ridge Folklife Festival program, 28 Oct 1995, above.
"Jack Tale Players to Perform Folklore from Blue Ridge." Altavista Journal [Altavista, VA], 29 May 1991. Article about the Jack Tale Players performing at Uncle Billy's Day on their 15th anniversary tour, with photo on steps of Schoolfield Hall. "Dr. Nellie McCaslin, the best-known children's theater critic, believes that the Jack Tale Players are the longest running, continuous production of a children's show in the history of American theater."
"Jack Tale Players to Perform Here." Martinsville Bulletin [Martinsville, VA], 20 Jan. 1984: front page, p. 10. Article about the Jack Tale performance at the Society of Friendly Impresarios meeting and ticket information, with photo of the Jack Tale performers.
"Jack Tale Players to Perform in Area." Martinsville Bulletin [Martinsville, VA], 4 July 2004, p. B6. Article about upcoming Jack Tale performances in Martinsville and Henry County, with photo of the Jack Tale Players. Background is given on the two tales "Jack's Mother's Second Marriage" and "Jack and the Mean Ol' Man."
"Jack Tales." Ferrum College Bulletin, Nov. 1976, p. 9. Article about grant given by Virginia Commission for the Arts and Humanities to the drama department at Ferrum College, with four photos of the Jack Tale Players. Stephenson comments on being pleased to begin a second year of folklore research and performance with "Jack Tales: A Children's Participation Drama." He discusses research on Cecil Sharp's trips to collect folklore in Franklin County. This semester, Stephenson also played Mark Twain in The Mousetrap, and directed the student performance of The Time of Your Life.
"'Jack Tales' Here Saturday." Page News and Courier [Luray, VA], 12 Oct. 1978, p. 20. Photo of the Jack Tale Players seated in Central Park. Article on upcoming performance in Luray includes cast list and discussion of Jack Tale Players' history. Claire Jennings of Luray is a sophomore performer.
"Jack Tale Shows." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 12 Dec. 1997. Photo of Jack Tale Players Nikki Payne and "Sparky" Chopski leaving a show at Jarman Auditorium at Longwood College.
"'Jack Tales' Performed." Farmville Herald [Farmville, VA], 20 Apr. 1979, p. A9. Photo of the Jack Tale Players, including Susie Whitaker of Farmville. They performed at J. P. Wynne Campus School.
"Jack Tales Performances." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 6 June 2005, p. 3. Announcement of local performances with two photos of the Jack Tale Players in "Hardy Hard Head" and children at Rocky Mount Elementary School watching a show.
"Jack Tales Plan Anniversary Performance for December." Ferrum Magazine, Spring 2005, p. 36. Short piece on upcoming 30th anniversary of Jack Tale Players, which was celebrated at Callaway Elementary School.
"'Jack Tales' Play Statewide Success." The Ferrum College Bulletin, Feb. 1977, p. 11. In the successful second year of Jack Tale performances all around the state of Virginia, demand for performances led Stephenson to form a second group called the Jack Tale Storytellers; it combined more traditional storytelling with drama to include more Jack Tales in a different type of performance. By the end of spring semester, an estimated 25,000 people will have seen Stephenson's Jack Tales.
"Jack Tales to Perform in New York." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 5 May 1977. Short article about Jack Tale Players performing in Rocky Mount and then in the New York City Youth Theatre Festival on May 29, with a taping of tales on May 27 for schools in the Bronx.
"Jack Tales Touring Theatre Troupe." Advance Book Information [Westport, CT], 1975. Short article about historical guide to children's theatre in America by Dr. Nellie McCaslin.
"Jack Tales Troupe Tours VA Hospitals for USO." The Ferrum College Bulletin, Winter 1980, p. 3. Article about seven students spending a week of Christmas vacation visiting VA hospitals in NC, GA, and FL on the Jack Tale Players' third USO tour (after Thanksgiving 1978 and June 1979). Director Rex Stephenson and music professor David A. Waybright accompanied the students. In January they performed at a VA hospital in Hampton and schools in Virginia Beach and Suffolk, VA. Includes a photo of the group with a hospital patient. On p. 4, Faculty/Staff Notes include a note about Rex Stephenson being appointed vice chairman of the Children's Theatre Division of the Southeastern Theatre Conference and becoming chairman in March. On p. 8 is a notice about Stephenson's plan to take students and alumni to New York City in the spring.
Jameson, Jannie. "Play Successfully Combines Music, History, Tragedy." The Iron Blade [Ferrum College, VA], 23 Feb. 1984. Article on Stephenson's play The Roar of the Silence, about the only race riot in Rocky Mount, Virginia, in the late 19th century. Archived in Ferrum College's Stanley Library.
Jaquess, David. "BRDT Brings in the Laughs with 'The Curious Savage.'" The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], p. A6. (Paper misprints the author's name as Laquess in the byline.) A review of The Curious Savage directed by Rex Stephenson at the Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre. Included are a photo with performers Mike Trochim and Jim Woods and another photo with Mike Trochim and Nikki Payne. The review praises the set, the cast, especially Jody D. Brown and recent Ferrum graduate Nikki Payne, and the "characteristically stellar production." Newspaper clipping in papers of the BRDT/Jack Tale Players with no date given, presumably June 2000.
"John Wesley's Mission Brought to Life." Ferrum Magazine, Spring 2000, p. 3. About The World Is My Parish by Stephenson and Michael Trochim.
Johnson, Florella H. "Gabriel's Honky Tonk Angels." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 8 July 2011, p. A2. Positive review of Gabriel's Honky Tonk Angels, new musical revue by Stephenson and Emily Rose Tucker, about stars of country music in heaven.
Johnson, Florella H. "A Review of 'The Night Loretta, Mother Maybelle, and Jeannie C. Spent in Jail.'" The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 13 July 2012, p. A3. Johnson praises the "fabulous creation by Rex Stephenson and Emily Rose Tucker," a musical revue about a fictional incident set in the imaginary small town of Pinetown, WV in 1970. While a group of musicians tries to get money wired to them to pay their bills after their promoter left with all the money, they tell true stories from their lives, sing many songs, and listen to local talent.
"JRT Presents The Jack Tales." Historic Jonesborough. Article about performances of Stephenson's The Jack Tales by the Jonesborough [TN] Repertory Theater, during the National Storytelling Festival. Sept.-Oct. 2006.
"JRT to Present 'The Jack Tales.'" Johnson City [TN] Press, 21 Sept. 2006. Article with rehearsal photo. Same information as article above. See also The Jack Tales, web page about 2006-2007 productions in Jonesborough Repertory Theatre web site.
"Junior Playhouse Presents 'The Jack Tales.'" Oak Ridge Observer [Oak Ridge, TN], 6 Oct. 2005, p. 9. Notice of performances of Stephenson's The Jack Tales at the Oak Ridge Junior Playhouse.
"'Just So Stories' Ends Season at BRDT." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 23 July 2012, p. A1. Photo of 16 area youth who will be among the cast of Just So Stories, adapted from Rudyard Kipling by Rex Stephenson, with original music by Emily Rose Tucker. BRDT company actors Chris Wolfe and Jordan Estose are pictured playing a whale.
Kennedy, Joe. "Acting Out." Roanoke Times & World-News, 5 Jan. 1993, Extra pp. 1, 3. Article with large action photo and a smaller photo (both in color) of Stephenson working with children in Donna Speidel's fourth-grade classat Oak Grove Elementary School in Roanoke, where he served as visiting artist that month. The children are described in detail "using their bodies to create items found in the giant's house in the tale called 'Jack and the Bean Tree.'" Stephenson, "their theatrical guru," coached them until he told them they succeeded in creating "the illusion of reality." P. 3 has a b/w photo of Stephenson reflecting on his work.
Kennedy, Joe. "Jack and the Hainted House." Roanoke Times & World-News, 31 Oct. 1992, Extra p. 1. Jack tale by Stephenson in story form with introductory article by Kennedy.
Kish, Kathy. "Almost Broadway: Former Graham High Student in Theater Group that will perform in New York." Bluefield Daily Telegraph [Bluefield, VA], 1 June 1999. Full-page article on Jack Tale member Allison Mitchem traveling to New York to play at the off-Broadway Provincetown Theatre in Greenwich Village with the Jack Tale Players (their fourth trip to New York in 20 years). Mitchem observed that she received a drama scholarship when applying to Ferrum College, that she was studying drama and psychology in order to go into drama therapy, and that she usually played Jack. She was also playing Emily in Our Town and commented on the hard work and busy schedule of the Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre. Two photos of Mitchem with the Jack Tale Players included.
Kittredge, Kevin. "Jefferson Davis: The Man who would be The King." The Roanoke Times and Roanoke.com, 16 June 2006: Extra. "In Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre's 'Jeff!,' the Confederate icon comes back as Elvis. It's one of two unusual works the theater is producing this summer." Two-page article with five photos and audio from Jeff!. Review of Stephenson's play about Jefferson Davis and preview of his new play, Jonah and the Big Fish.
Kittredge, Kevin. "Wickedly Good." The Roanoke Times, 16 July 2003, Extra pp. 1, 3. Article with photos on Stephenson's new Biblical play, Daniel, with performances by visiting New York actresses Nellie McCaslin and Vera Mowry Roberts.
Knick, Tammy. "The General and His Lady—A Play You Won't Want to Miss." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], pp. 1, 16. Review of The General and His Lady, written by Rex Stephenson at the Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre, with a photo of Stephenson. Newspaper clipping in papers of the BRDT/Jack Tale Players with no date given (this play was new 1989 and this clipping appears to be from a Wednesday in May or June 1989). The article summarizes the history covered through the point of view of General Robert E. Lee's wife Mary Custis Randolph Lee (played in her later years by associate director of BRDT Janice Scudder and in her younger days by Janice Stephenson Watkins). The play "is both humorous and historical." "The Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre is in its 10th year at Ferrum College—and becoming better with each season."
Kozelsky, Holly. "Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre Holding Steady in Ferrum." Martinsville [VA] Bulletin, 4 July 2010. Article based on interview with Rex Stephenson about the history and current season of the BRDT, with a photo of Stephenson with actors, and one of set preparation on the BRDT stage.
Kozelsky, Holly. "Director Finds New Purpose In Coordinating Children's Theater." The Martinsville Bulletin, 25 March 2013. Article on Stephenson directing creative drama workshops for children at Spencer-Penn Center in spring and summer, collaborating with Elliott Stone, who was an original member of the Jack Tale Players in 1975.
"Last Play of the Year." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 2 Aug. 2006, p. B7. Brief notice about Kids Say the Darndest Things, directed by Stephenson at BRDT. Photos of performer Chandra Diesel playing children of three different ages.
Lauterstein, Ken. "From Basement to Center Stage: The Origins of the Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre are Steeped in Area History and Folklore." Past Times column. Smith Mountain Lake.com, 29 April 2011. Article with two photos about Stephenson's plays, BRDT history, and collaboration with Emily Rose Tucker. Information from an interview with Stephenson and Tucker includes an overview of both their careers, discussion of the development of Too Free for Me in 1979, and a list of Stephenson's other plays on Franklin County history.
Lebovitz, Carl. "EIU Theatre's Jack Tales: Two Shows Weren't Enough." Accessed 12/19/01 from NorthernIllinoisCommunityTheatre.com. Web page review about Stephenson's Jack Tales performed at the conclusion of Eastern Illinois University Theatre's 2000-2001 season. The tales were "Jack and the Witch's Tale," "Jack and the Robbers," "Jack and Old Greasy Beard," and "Soap, Soap, Soap." "Eastern's director, John T. Oertling, and his cast [of 13 actors] had a ball with them." They sang "She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain" as they went "traipsing down the aisles." [Stephenson did not write "Soap, Soap, Soap"; he explained in a conversation on 7/31/13 that the EIU dramatists, who had also produced this play at Mars Hill, NC, obtained his permission to combine the "Soap" folktale with his Jack Tales].
"Local Players to Visit New Orleans." Clipping in papers of the BRDT/Jack Tale Players with no publication title or date given. Photo of the Jack Tale Players on an outdoor stage, with notice that they will perform at the American Theatre Association annual convention (this was 1978).
Loveland, George. "'Nunsense Jamboree': A Spirited and Rollicking Good Time." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 17 July 2009, p. A2. Review of Nunsense Jamboree, directed by Stephenson.
Lyon, Rob. "Being a Member of Jack Tale Players Really Hits Home." The Smith Mountain Eagle [Smith Mountain Lake, VA], unidentified date (about 1987 if the article is accurate about the Jack Tale Players being in existence for 12 years). Article about freshman Tracy Ellis of Smith Mountain Lake becoming a member of the Jack Tale Players. Her first four performances included a workshop for Roanoke librarians. Ellis praises Rex Stephenson as a director, Ferrum College, and her drama background at Staunton River High School, where she would like to teach after majoring in educational theatre. She mentions creation of a giant in a Biblical tale with one actor on the shoulders of another. Photo of Ellis included.
Lyon, Rob. "Lake Dinner Theatre a Treat in Many Ways." The Smith Mountain Eagle [Smith Mountain Lake, VA], 8 Aug. 1990, p. B2. A review on The Conspiracy, written and directed by Rex Stephenson at the Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre.
Mallory, Laura. "A Review of 'When the Lights Go On Again.'" The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 8 June 2012. Positive review of musical revue set in World War II, written by Stephenson and Emily Rose Tucker. A photo of Tucker, Rachel K. Blankenship, and Kristen Krak in their World War II USO costumes appeared about a week earlier in the newspaper.
McBride, Michael. "Profile." The Star Press [Muncie, IN], Aug. 18, 2006. Newspaper interview with photo. Discusses influences from Stephenson's Indiana hometown and De Soto High School, his beginnings in drama at Ball State University, his teaching at Redkey High School, and his writing of plays.
McCaslin, Nellie. "The Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre: A Recipe for Success." Stage of The Art, Winter 2002, pp. 16-17. Full text at this link. Photo of Nellie McCaslin as Noah's mother in Stephenson's play And The Rains Came at right.
McCaslin, Nellie. "Jack Tales Touring Theatre Troupe." In Historical Guide to Children's Theatre in America. Westport, CN: Greenwood Press, 1986. An overview of the early development of Stephenson's Jack Tale Players and summer theatre with local history plays. "An example of an innovative and highly imaginative program is the one developed at Ferrum College in southwest Virginia. Rex Stephenson, chairman of the theatre department, began work with a group of students and a personal interest in the local folklore known as the 'Jack Tales.' These stories from the Blue Ridge Mountains, which had been handed down through an oral tradition, appealed to Stephenson as having dramatic possibilities." "Ferrum is unique in its use of natural resources—contents of plays, format, and, on occasion, the actual spots where historic events took place. The Ferrum program is a prime example of the kind of innovation that was taking place during the late seventies and early eighties. Also, like many others, it was reinforced by funds from government and local sources" (p. 170).
McCaslin, Nellie. Theatre for Children in the United States: A History. Studio City, CA: Players Press, 1997. In the chapter "New Patterns and Relationships (1980-1997)," a section on "Educational Theatre," describe Stephenson's development of the Jack Tale Players on pp. 355-56, with most of the same details as in McCaslin's Historical Guide (above). "The tales are tied together by a narrator and folk music. A description of the musical instruments used in the program provides an orientation to the material and format" (356)..
McGee, Lydia "'The Jack Tales' Production Delights Audience." The Concordian, 16 Nov. 2017. Review of Concord University's production of Stephenson's The Jack Tales directed by Karen Varunch Nov. 8-11, 2017. The tales performed were "Jack Fear-No-Man" and "Jack’s First Job" in the first act (the latter not from Stephenson's script) and then "Jack and the Witch’s Tale" and "Wicked John and the Devil." "Dr. Tim Mainland and Professor Maggie Jusiel along with actor Caleb Zopp accompanied the entire production with live music." One photo of Jack with three actors playing the mill in "Jack and the Witch's Tale" is included. "Closing night, playwright R. Rex Stephenson visited Concord to see the production. Though the cast took much creative liberty with the show, making it different each night, Stephenson was delighted and called it a 'wonderful show.'" Plans to take the show to visit schools would be announced later.
McGowan, Thomas. "Beech Mountain Jack Tale." The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Folktales and Fairy Tales. Ed. Donald Haase. Vol. 1. Greenwood Press, 2008. Dramatic adaptations at Ferrum College are mentioned in this encyclopedia entry.
Miles, Nancy L. "'Play Opens Next Week." The Iron Blade [Ferrum College, VA], 30 Sept. 1982. Archived in Ferrum College's Stanley Library. Article on Stephenson's drama Wicca, about love and jealousy, revenge and witchcraft in the Blue Ridge Mountains, with a cast list including Stephenson's young daughter Janice. The article mentions three local sources incorporated into the script.
Miles, Nancy L. "'Wicca': A Bewitching Success." The Iron Blade [Ferrum College, VA], 14 Oct. 1982. Archived in Ferrum College's Stanley Library. Article on Stephenson's drama about love and jealousy, revenge and witchcraft in the Blue Ridge Mountains, including a photo of professor Wayne Bowman in the play. As listed above, Wicca was published in an online magazine in 2001.
Moles, Susan. "Drama Not for Laughs." The Martinsville Bulletin, 19 Feb. 1984, pp. D1, 3. The article discusses a "Kids on the Block" puppet program in Martinsville schools and Stephenson's use of a Shakespeare spoof in Roar of the Silence, a play about race relations that was performed at Ferrum as part of a Winter Arts Festival. The play used a minstrel show and Hamlet parody called "Omelet" to deal with depressing post-Civil War Franklin County history. Comments from Stephenson and audience members are included, along with background on Stephenson's career, Jack Tale Players, and White Column Mansions trilogy of plays, which ends with Roar of the Silence. Includes a photo of Lydia Robertson and Brian Little in the play. See also "Taboos May Fall To Teaching Tool," below, on same page of this newspaper.
Monk, Bethany A. "Summer Stars to Light Up SCT Stage." The Star-Ledger [Sutter Creek, CA], 26 June 2009. Article with photo about children's theatre camp at Sutter Creek Theatre performing Stephenson's "Jack Tales."
Moss, Elizabeth. Review of Too Free for Me. Children's Book and Play Review, July 2003. Published at Brigham Young Univ. Review based on 1998 published script.
"Mr. Twain." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 20 July 1994, front page. Photo of Rex Stephenson applying his Mark Twain makeup for a show at the college on July 20, with BRDT cast members "telling stories and singing songs of the American West."
"Mrs. California Opens this Week at BRDT." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 18 June 2008. Short article with summary of Mrs. California, directed by Stephenson, and photo of Emily Rose Tucker and fellow actresses.
Muse, Brenda Webb. "A Review of 'The Odd Couple.'" The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 22 June 2012, p. 5A. Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre production of The Odd Couple by Neil Simon, directed by Stephenson, starred Stephenson as Oscar and Michael Trochim as Felix.
Mushko, Becky. "Jack Tales and App Lit." Peevish Pen, 26 Oct. 2011. Blog entry on folktales at the Children's Literature Association Conference at Hollins University in June. Mushko says that she loved "the old-timey stories" as a kid but didn't know some of them were called Jack tales. She participated in a conference session with writer Lynn Salsi and Anne Chase (storyteller and Richard Chase's daughter). Photos from the conference and Jack Tale books include several images of Salsi's picture book Jack and the Fire Dragon and Mushko's Ferradiddledumday, and a photo of the three participants in Mushko's session. Another photo shows the following session on the Jack Tale Players, with Rex Stephenson and his performers "Emily Rose Tucker, Rachel Blankenship, and Kenneth C. Barron. Charles Vess turned up during this session and told about designing the Jack Tales Wall at Southwest Virginia Community College."
Mushko, Becky. "Moonshine Express 2011." Peevish Pen, 17 April 2011. Blog entry on Franklin County Historical Society's Moonshine Express tour, with photo of Stephenson as Will Rogers.
Narmour, Lindsey. "Not Quite a Saint, but Close Enough." No date. Teen Ink: Magazine, Website, and Books Written by Teens since 1989. The Young Authors Foundation (accessed in fall 2011). Categorized as memoir, by a teenager who is highly rated as a participant in this site, with an author's note that it was written for English 111 (at Virginia Western Community College). This article is a perceptive and amusing description of Rex Stephenson and the author's experience performing with the Jack Tale Players and in Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre plays. A scene in the 2011 production of Heidi is discussed with interesting detail about staging of the scene and participation of child actors.
Nelson, Jordan. "Concord University to Present 'The Jack Tales.'" The Register-Herald [Beckley, WV], 7 Nov. 2017. Article about a production of Stephenson's script The Jack TalesNov. 8-11 at Concord University in Athens, WV. "Theater Director Karen Vuranch said 'The Jack Tales' are traditional mountain stories brought to Appalachia from the Old World, where there are hundreds of old stories where Jack is the hero. The play will bring five of those stories to life [four from Stephenson's script]. Vuranch said the stories are comical and provide a lot of opportunities for silliness and creativity, but at the same time they rejoice in the uniqueness of the Appalachian culture. She said she believes the play was a perfect fit for Concord and has been extremely fun to produce."Nelson, Mindy M. Review of The Three Old Women's Bet by R. Rex Stephenson. Children's Book and Play Review, Jan. 2004.
"New Britain Youth Theater Produces 'The Prince and the Pauper' with a Twist." The Middletown [Connecticut] Press: Entertainment, May 3, 2017. News article on Stephenson's adaptation of Dickens' novel, produced by a professional community and educational theater. The "twist" is the character of Mark Twain, dictating parts of his autobiography to a writer while neighborhood children act out his novel about a Tudor prince and a peasant boy. "Local actor John Peifer, known for his work at New Britain’s Hole in the Wall Theater, stars as Mark Twain. The performance is directed by Rae Johnson."
"New Play Opens at BRDT on June 26." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 20 June 2007, p. A5. Short article on revised production of The World is My Parish, a play about the life of John Wesley written by Stephenson and Michael R. Trochim, who played James Rodgers. John Isner played the title role in this BRDT summer production. The article lists the cast and summarizes the play "spiced with humor, pathos and historical facts."
"New York Actor Featured in New Children's Play." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 17 July 1998. Half-page article on Rex Stephenson's adaptation of Mark Twain's Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.
Oaks, Melissa. Review of Galileo: Man of Science by Rex Stephenson and Mike Trochim. Children's Book and Play Review. PDF file available online of this section of the journal does not reveal the date (accessed 9/14/15).
Ohio River Festival of Books, Huntington, WV, May 1, 2004. Stephenson appeared on the featured Authors pages (link not functioning 11/23/17).
"Old Linkletter Show Becomes a Musical." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 17 July 2006. Short article on BRDT production Kids Say the Darndest Things.
Ord, Priscilla. "'LC Production Declared 'Roaring' Success.'" The Farmville (VA.) Herald, 6 Oct. 1998, p. A7. Full-page article on Androcles and the Lion, performed at Longwood College and guest directed by Rex Stephenson, with a photo of several performers in the play.
Overstreet, Valerie. "Can't Get to Heaven in a Cab." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 6 July 1998. With photo of Joe Ray as Father and Kara-Beth Oliver as the servant Annie. A review of Life with Father, summarizing the plot. "Joe Ray brings believability to the character of Clarence Sr. that gives the rest of the cast a strong support to build on. He and Jody Brown [as Mother] demonstrate how good acting can be the best part of the play. Their relationship almost overshadows the sub-plot."
Pendergast, Diana. "The Play's the Thing for Ferrum College Professor." Blue Ridge Traditions, June 1996, pp. 5, 7-8. "Person of the Month" article about Rex Stephenson's life and what he brought to Ferrum College over 26 years, with photo of Stephenson and Jack Tales backdrop. "He has lost none of his energy for creating family entertainment or teaching the art of portraying a story to an appreciative audience. This enthusiasm was undoubtedly born, when as a young boy in Desoto, Indiana, he was captivated by the stories that his grandfather, Blaine Stephenson, recounted about the magic of the theater" (p. 5). After teaching high school and coming to Ferrum at age 29, Stephenson and Ronnie Davie, encouraged by M. G. Goodpasture at the college, found the James Taylor Adams paper in Wise, "the rich trove found in the unique Jack Tales...the 'lost' WPA" collection stored at Clinch Valley College. Among his research on Jack tales, he found that "Jack and his Lump of Silver" was the only one from Franklin County. One of the "little plays" that he began writing in Indiana was published and performed in many places around the world [The Liberated Cinderella]. The college students are responsible for the success of the Jack Tales and in Franklin County, "The people have been very willing to accept our kids as real actors... let people judge them by their abilities and not by their credits. In a lot of ways, I think that's what made us a success." Traveling widely with them in the past became too expensive (p. 7). Now people come to Ferrum in bus loads for plays. Stephenson said, "When you get three generations of a family together in your theater, you feel pretty good about where the world is going" (p. 8). Actors at BRDT do a wide variety of jobs and interact with the audience. Trial by Jury was written by Stephenson with his brother, who is a lawyer. Their collaboration "made this a poignant family endeavor." Stephenson drew on his grandfather's "expressions and mannerisms" in developing his Mark Twain show. He "was recognized, just this past March, by the National Drama Guild." A play for this summer, The General and his Lady, stemmed from an undergraduate term paper on Robert E. Lee, and archive research at Washington and Lee University. Stephenson's youngest daughter, age two and a half, may make her debut in this play. When Stephenson's fourth play is published in August, he may be "the most published playwright in Virginia." This issue also has a feature by Kermit Sloan on Jubal Early, who is a character in Stephenson's Too Free for Me.
Pendergast, Diana. "Two Dramas Chronicle Little Publicized Historical Events." Blue Ridge Traditions, March 1998, pp. 1, 3-4. The article gives background on the 1998 productions of Too Free for Me, which depicts little known episodes from the lives of lawyer Jubal Early, Judge Norborne M. Taliaferro and other pre-Civil War Franklin County residents. We Band of Brothers, co-authored with Mike Trochim, deals with Wild Bill Hickock, Buffalo Bill Cody and Ned Buntline producing a show in Chicago. When Too Free for Me was published this year it would become Stephenson's 7th published play.
"Performance Set at Monument." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA] 17 July 2009. Color photo of Jack Tale Players performing at Booker T. Washington National Monument.
"Pickin' and Grinnin'." Clipping in papers of the BRDT/Jack Tale Players with no newspaper title or date given. Short article about the Jack Tale Players' performance at Hampton Veterans Administration Medical Center. Two photos with Willie Thompson, John Van Patton, Ray Knox, and Margaret Walker.
Piedmont, Anne. "Play Traces Evolution of Race Relations in Franklin County." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA] 30 July 1980. Ferrum College historian Andrew Baskin was quoted as saying, "Things were looking bad for the home team," because historians had searched in court records of Franklin and Henry Counties, and secondary sources including county histories, but found nothing further about the people depicted in the play Too Free for Me, when there was a plan to write a trilogy of play about the same characters. Use of diaries acquired from Freedman's Bureau records in the National Archives is also discussed.
Pillis, Peggy. "Demand High for Talents of Touring Groups." Ferrum College Bulletin, Spring 1978, p. 12. Overview of college musical touring groups including the Jack Tale Players and Jack Tale Storytellers, "which perform dramatizations of original Blue Ridge Mountain folktales with traditional folk music accompaniments." Performances in a variety of places are listed: Atlanta, Richmond, Hopewell, Newport News Folklife Festival, Martinsville, Roanoke, and Floyd, with anticipation of "an invitation to perform in August for the American Childrens [sic] Theater Festival." "The two groups have performed approximately 30 times during the academic year." The drama department has also been working with WBRA-TV to produce educational videos (copies archived in Ferrum College library).
"Playhouse Presents 'The Jack Tales.'" Oak Ridge Observer [Oak Ridge, TN], 20 Oct. 2005, p. 12. Article with photo about young cast performing Stephenson's The Jack Tales at the Oak Ridge Junior Playhouse. The tales performed were "Jack Fear-No-Man," "Foolish Jack," "Jack and the Robbers," and "Jack and 'Ol Greasy Beard."
"Plays Selected to be Published." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 21 June 2002: A1, 8.
Powell, Melissa. "Audience Plays Its Part in Jack Tales."The Iron Blade [Ferrum College, VA], 22 Oct. 22 1976, p. 4. Positive review of the Oct. 16 Jack Tales performance, before two performances at the upcoming Blue Ridge Folklife Festival. Dean Gates and Ben Goggin made their debut at this performance. Gates played Alfred Possumbloomer, a man who would make Jack and his brothers do work if he married their mother, while Goggin played the corpse of the mother's first husband. "The audience participation was unique in this performance.... This participation made the audience more attentive to the play and the actors." The actors would use original materials to create a new drama about Jack and the witches. Photo of Rex Stephenson, Kathie Rix, Dean Gates, Mike Gish, and Joan Steube included. Another photo, next to an article about Richard Chase's visit to Ferrum by Sharon Capps, shows Wanda Edwards trying to ride a horse played by Kathis Rix and Mike Gish, in "Foolish Jack."
Preston, Dan. "Jack Tales: Mary Hunter Students Get a Glimpse of their Roots." 17 Nov. 1977. Newspaper clipping in papers of the BRDT/Jack Tale Players with no title given (probably Martinsville paper). Article on the Jack Tale performance at Mary Hunter Elementary School in Bassett, VA. The children "probably held their chins a little higher, rich with pride in their family roots and cultural heritage." The article describes the children's responses to "The Mean Old Man" and "Foolish Jack." Stephenson, school principal Edward P. Jones, and some of the children commented on the benefits of learning from "the healthy, optimistic outlook of mountain people" who never give up in the tales. With photo on p. 11 of the Mean Old Man attempting "to knock off Jack" with a giant mallet.
"Regional Audience to See Jack Tales." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 9 July 2004, p. A3. Short article about Jack Tale Players touring local libraries with two revised and newly staged tales, "Jack's Mother's Second Marriage" and "Jack and the Mean Old Man." Jody Brown, executive director of the BRDT, commented on The Virginia Commission for the Arts helping to fund these productions in order to reach "out to new audiences" and take "timeless stories to children and adults in our region who might not otherwise have the opportunity to see live theatre."
"Regional Folk Life Highlighter." Group Tour Magazine, 18 May 2012. Group Tour Media. Article on exhibits and tours available at Blue Ridge Institute and Museum, with mention of Jack Tale Players in the Jack Tales Tour.
Renner, Craig J. "America's Jack: The Trickster Hero of Our Shy Tradition." The World & I: The Magazine for Lifelong Learning, Sept. 1998, pp. 224-31. Contains brief history of Jack tales in Europe and America, citing mainly Lindahl and Perdue, with discussion of the Jack Tale Players under "Popular Revival." The article says they had "put on over two thousand performances of Jack tales over the last twenty years before more than 75,000 appreciative audience members" (p. 231). Includes two pictures of Stephenson's Jack Tale Players (Nikki Payne and Mike Amadeo in "Wicked John," p. 224; Jody Brown, Rex Stephenson and others playing music, p. 231). Full text available from library databases such as Academic Index.
"Rex's Last Stand: After 35 Years as Mark Twain Professor Gives Final Performance." The Ferrum Magazine, Winter 2010-2011, pp. 32-33. Article with photos, available online and in print from Ferrum College.
"Richard Chase Praises Ferrum's 'Jack Tales.'" Ferrum College Press Release, 19 Oct. 1976. Copy in papers of Jack Tale Players/BRDT. "Last week the 73 year old author returned to the mountains from his California retirement home, this time not to collect folktales but to assist drama students at Ferrum College with a recreation of the tales he helped revive," in "their second year of researching and writing their own folktale plays." The first year's play was entitled "Jack Tales: A Children's Participation Drama." Chase praised the use of creative drama and "spontaneity." Chase conducted a workshop on mountain games, lectured to classes, and critiqued performances during his week at Ferrum. Chase said that Wayside Theatre of northern Virginia was the only other organization in the country to dramatize his folktale collection successfully. "'I think it's wonderful what Ferrum College is doing,' Chase said, 'and I hope Professor Stephenson will consider presenting the play year after year."
"'The Roar of The Silence.'" The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 7 Aug. 1981, p. A3. Photo with the cast of Stephenson's historical play The Roar of the Silence. Members of the cast identified are Joe Ray, Suzy Whitaker, Janice Stephenson, Wayman Tyree, Margaret Walker, and Jennifer Crane.
Roberts, Frank M. "Jack Tales: Entertaining Folklore at its Very Finest." Suffolk Sun [Suffolk, VA], 31 Jan. 1980, pp. 7, 8. The article about performances at Booker T. Washington Intermediate School and Suffolk High School opens with a joke played on the audience children when a performer expected them to know the "She-be" song ("She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain"). In three photos, Ray Knotts shows a student how to play the guitar, Margaret Walker dances with a laughing child, and she shows another how to play the washtub bass. "Without realizing it, students are getting educated, finding themselves becoming familiar with mountain lore and tradition." The tales "designed to educate and entertain" were "Jack and Old Greasy-Beard," "Jack and the Hidden Valley," and "Jack-Fear-No-Man." "If smiles, laughter, and interest are any indication, they succeed in Suffolk."
Roberts, Kristin. "It's Showtime at BRDT." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 22 July 2011. Review of Showtime at First Baptist directed by Stephenson.
Roberts, Kristen. "A Review of BRDT's Steel Magnolias." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 21 May 2010, p. A11.
Rosenberg, Madelyn. "'Too Free for Me': A Black Woman Fights for Freedom in Franklin County, Defended by a Man Who One Day Would Become a Confederate General." The Roanoke Times, 20 Dec. 1997, Extra pp. 1, 6. Article with photo of Rex Stephenson and portrait of Jubal Early. The article begins by describing the 23 lines in a Jubal Early biography devoted to the case of Indiana vs. Gresham Choice. Rosenberg compares the current feature film Amistad, about John Quincy Adams defending "the first case in which blacks battled as free men in the U. S. Supreme Court [with] Stephenson's 'Too Free for Me' [which] explores the emotions of a divided country / when two women, one of them black, opposed a white man in Franklin County Court." After the brief facts known about the Choice case, "Stephenson's imagination takes over." "In Stephenson's play, to be published this summer by Utah's Encore Publishing, Indiana is a strong woman, tall and with perfect posture.... Cassandra is also strong, with a motherly air." Gresham says in the play that "She's a woman of her own mind." The article quotes "Dr. Francis Amos, a physician and historian in Rocky Mount," on the complexity of Jubal Early's character. Stephenson hoped to dramatize later another case Early defended, a slave named Silas who was unjustly imprisoned. Stephenson "chose first to tell the story of Indiana, which to him is about the strength of women." When publishers repeatedly told Stephenson the story wasn't true, he revised, submitted it to 30 publishers, and won a contest for unpublished plays before finding a publisher. Stephenson could not find enough material about the Choices after the court case to write another play about them.
"R. Rex Stephenson to Recreate Mark Twain." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 3 Oct. 1990. Short article and photo of Rex Stephenson as Mark Twain announcing two October performances. "From the moment he saunters through the crowd, while wearing that traditional white suit and smoking that familiar cigar, one can't help but be spellbound." The article quotes arts reporter Ann Wentworth, who said, "At the end of the evening, one feels very much as if one has spent a very pleasant time with a literary giant."
"Sanders Family Christmas Opens at BRDT." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 11 July 2008, p. A3. Photo of John Isner and Emily Rose Tucker included.
Saunders, Tinah. "'Roar': Ferrum Actors Will Present Weekend Play at Stoneleigh." Martinsville Bulletin [Martinsville, VA], 31 July 1981, pp. A?, 5. Article on The Roar of the Silence, written and directed by Rex Stephenson, with a photo of cast members Joe Ray, Jennifer Crane, Ernest Harper, and Margaret Walker. Richard Smith, project director and history professor, comments that the play "was created to be deliberately 'outrageous,'" and "Shocking the audience stimulates thinking." Unlike the first two plays in Stephenson's trilogy based on historical research, this play has no breaks but "flows, building dramatic intensity until the conclusion." Stephenson called the play a "trick for the emotions." Within a minstrel show like those that toured the area in the 1890s is "a tragic theme,...the burning of Rocky Mount in 1889."
Shively, Gary. "A Review of 'Smoke on the Mountain Homecoming.'" The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 16 July 2007, p. 3. The review of a musical directed by Stephenson at BRDT discusses the music and plot depicting struggles with which "we all can relate in one way or another." "You will enjoy the expressions and gestures of the very strict ladies sitting in the Amen Corner.... With good actors and good music, you will honestly feel uplifted by the 'services.'"
Shoemaker, Deanna. "Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre: 'First Baptist of Ivy Gap.'" The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 9 July 2010, p. A3. Review of play set in 1945 and 1970, directed by Stephenson.
Shoemaker, Deanna. "BRDT's Production of 'Blue Suede Shoes' Keeps the Audience Happy." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 22 June 2009, p. 7. Review of new musical revue set in 1959, written and directed by Stephenson.
Shores, Larry. "Our Neighborhood." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA]. Probably July 1993. Article on historical background of upcoming BRDT play O'Callahan, the Man Who Saved the Ship That Wouldn't Die, co-written by Stephenson and recent Ferrum graduate Joey Stanley, with Stephenson's uncle William Stephenson as technical advisor. Clipping with unidentified date in papers of the BRDT/Jack Tale Players at Ferrum College.
"'The Show Will Go On' at the Dinner Theatre: Retirement of the Two Longtime Directors Will Bring Changes." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 16 July 2012, front page. Photo of Rex Stephenson and Jody D. Brown in "Mark Twain on the Lecture Circuit," with article on their retirement after the BRDT's 33th season in 2012. The college's plans introduced in this article resulted in, not a continuation of the BRDT, but a new performing arts series at Ferrum College in 2013.
Smith, Becky. "Jack Tales to Perform in New York over Spring Break." The Iron Blade [Ferrum College, VA], 27 Feb. 1992. Front page. Photo with 13 Jack Tale Players and article about nine players going to New York March 2-4 to perform and hold workshops with inner-city children, sponsored by NYU Theatre Department. In the photo are David Howard, Kevin Edwards, Revarlo Mitchell, Daniel Hamman, Michael Goolsby, Benjamin Addison, Mary Catherine Glancey, Mae Gilbert, Barbara Brown, Angie Johnson, Susan Winn, Susan Stephenson, and Keith Clark. Todd Necessary and Joey Stanley, as well as Addison, Glancy, Howard, Johnson, Mitchell and S. Stephenson, were headed to New York.
Stanley, Joe. "'Jeff' Gets Positive Reviews." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 21 June 2006, pp. A3, 5. A review of Jeff!, written and directed by Rex Stephenson at BRDT. In the title role, John Isner "shifts seamlessly from Elvis Presley to Confederate President Jefferson Davis" in a play written by Stephenson that "is an eclectic mix of pop culture and confederate history.... Originally performed a decade ago, the music has been transformed through the talent of N. Todd Necessary, John Van Patton, and Emily Rose Tucker."
Starling, Wade. "Luray High School Grad Plays 'Jack' for Kids." Clipping with unidentified source and date in papers of the BRDT/Jack Tale Players, Ferrum College (possibly Luray Page News and Courier, 1977). Article about 1976 Luray High School graduate Claire Jennings performing as Jack in the Jack Tale Players, with a photo of Jennings and another performer. Jennings competed with 40 people in auditions and was one of three freshmen selected. She and Stephenson discussed advantages of working with children, collaborating while traveling together, and the cultural authenticity of the tales. Jennings was also playing Penelope Perfecteater in an educational show about nutrition in a series of videos produced by Stephenson.
"State Reacts Favorably To Ferrum's 'Jack Tales.'" The Ferrum College Bulletin, Feb. 1976. After the Jack Tale Players had performed in over 20 locations around the state since Dec. 1975, Stephenson described the positive responses as "overwhelming." Eleven students had a part in writing and editing the play. They performed in 17 elementary schools, the Hermitage Home in Richmond, the Richmond Crippled Children's Hospital, the college, and live on Channel 7's daytime program "Panorama." The station received enthusiastic calls immediately after the 15-minute performance on air.
Stein, Bob. "Jack Tales Troupe on USO Tour." The Ferrum College Bulletin, Spring 1981, p. 5. On Memorial Day the USO celebrated 40 years of service and the Jack Tales Traveling Theatre Troupe had been with the USO for five years. A 25-day tour of Veteran Medical Centers went from Columbia, MO on May 18 to 12 Midwestern states, bringing the total of Jack Tales shows at VA centers to 150. These anniversaries would be celebrated with a special program on WBRA TV. "A typical VA show consists of an hour of music...mixed with several tales from the folklore of the Blue Ridge" and then visits to patients who cannot leave wards. "This personal attention, combined with sparkling performances, makes a show which one VA Director called the 'best USO show I've ever seen.'" The performers are all volunteers, "receiving no pay for the grueling shows or the hours of rehearsals. They do it for the fun and the joy of making other lives happier." Other Jack Tales productions were "Sun Can," a show on solar energy, and Stephenson's three plays on 19th-century civil rights issues in Franklin County. On p. 6, pictures from Spring Celebration Weekend include a photo of "Sun Can." On p. 7, Faculty/Staff Notes include a note about Stephenson attending the March meeting of the American Theater Association in Orlando "as governor of Region V and chairman of the Children's Theater Division of the Southeastern Theater Conference. He also lectured to graduate students majoring in children's theatre at New York University in March." On p. 11, Alumni Spotlight features Raymond H. Sloan '29, "an award-winning musician and noted historian," a native of Ferrum who collected folklore during the WPA Federal Writers' Project. He recently published stories of Franklin County and the Blue Ridge Mountains in Uncle Esom's Grist Mill. [See "Jack and his Lump of Silver."] On p. 1 an article about graduation announces that Willette Thompson (a member of the Jack Tale Players and lead actress in BRDT plays) received the Lillie Warwick Slaven Award.
"Stephen Gordon Produces Video on Appalachian Oral Tradition for 2005 National History Day Project." Three articles reprinted in AppLit. Stephenson was one of the experts interviewed by Gordon for his award-winning video "Telling Tales: The Appalachian Oral Tradition."
Stephenson, Morris. "BRDT to Present a Musical Revue of WWII." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 20 June 2008, p. A3. Article about local underwriting of new play When the Lights Go on Again: A Musical Revue of WWII, by R. Rex Stephenson and Emily Rose Tucker, opening July 2. With photo of executive producer Jody Brown and performer Amanda Pascale accepting a check from Rocky Mount attorney Eric Ferguson. Brown said, "This is the perfect production for Independence Day weekend."
Stephenson, Morris. "Franklin Community Bank Sponsors 'Nunsense II.'" The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 11 Apr. 2008, p. A3. Article with overview of the play to be directed by Stephenson at BRDT, with photo of Jody D. Brown accepting a check from Larry Heaton and three other bank representatives.
Stephenson, Morris. "A Happy 'Black Thursday.'" The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 28 Nov. 2012. Morris Stephenson's Down the River column includes a section on Rex Stephenson's 1979 play Too Free for Me, and the upcoming performance in the state drama festival of Todd Necessary's adaptation of the play for his students at Marion High School.
Stephenson, Morris. "Jack Tale Players." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 24 Dec. 2001, pp. A1, B5–7. Discusses 25-year history of the Jack Tale Players with a number of photos.
"Stephenson Publishes Three Plays." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 6 Dec. 2000, pp. A1, 8.
Stone, Nancy. "Author Assists Players." The Ferrum College Bulletin, Nov. 1976, pp. 2, 14. Reprint of article about "Nervous Actors" from Martinsville Bulletin 13 Oct. 1976 (see below). With photo of Chase holding a carved animal and talking to Stephenson (photo at right).
Stone, Nancy. "Children 'Take to 'Jack Tales.'" Martinsville Bulletin [Martinsville, VA], 18 Jan. 1976, pp. B1, B4. With a photo of three Jack Tale Players and children in a "lively warm-up session." The continuing page has the headline "Area Pupils Like 'Broadway Life' Jack Tales Offer." The lead calls the "'audience participation play'...one of the hottest and newest movements in drama appreciation around, especially for kindergarten and primary school aged children." Five area elementary schools were part of the Jack Tale Players' first tour around Virginia. This article discusses the participatory performance in the round, with Stephenson quoting "children's drama author Peter Slade who said, 'Actors should act with and among the children, not at them.'... In 'Jack Tales,' the children dance, carry things, and help the actors solve problems." Students from Fieldale-Collinsville High School also performed a comedy about the creation of the earth (with a photo of Ann Prillaman dramatizing the creation). Their sponsor and Stephenson comment on the developmental and educational benefits of this active, improvisational type of theatre for children. In a warm-up square dance, actors pull anyone into the dance, provoking extra howls when the principal at Sanville Elementary joined the dance. The article mentions the background and teachers' guide prepared by Stephenson. (See Activities to Accompany Study of Dramatizations by the Jack Tale Players, The Script as Story Theatre, and Jack and the King's Girl.)
Stone, Nancy. "'Jack Tales': Nervous Ferrum Actors Face Folklore Collector." Martinsville Bulletin [Martinsville, VA], 13 Oct. 1976, pp. 1, 8. Article on Richard Chase's visit to Ferrum, with two photos. In one, at Mt. Olivet Elementary School, he "gave an impromptu performance with his monkey puppet." Stone describes the Jack Tale Players holding their breath until Chase declared their performance at this school "wonderful" in the way they used creative drama. The article gives background on Chase's collecting of Jack tales since 1935 and the Jack Tale Players' grant-funded development of the plays in 1975, performing them for over 8000 children through the previous year. Chase compared telling a story to telling a joke, using humor and interest, "only it's longer." Stephenson said "He saved the tales," by putting them in popular books and recordings (p. 8).
Swortzell, Lowell. Cinderella: The World’s Favorite Fairy Tale. Charlottesville, VA: New Plays Inc., 1992. Reprint Dramatic Publishing. The play, combining 4 Cinderella tales from different cultures, was first directed in its present form by Rex Stephenson at Ferrum College, 1991. The Multicultural Study Guide by Nancy Swortzell contains drama workshops conducted by Rex Stephenson with groups of third to fifth grade students.
"Taboos May Fall To Teaching Tool." The Martinsville [VA] Bulletin, 19 Feb. 1984, p. D1. Dr. Lowell Swortzell, 53, a founder of the educational theater program at NYU, discussed the methods of educational theater while visiting Ferrum College. He explained that dramatizing difficult subjects and followup discussions can be used for educational and therapeutic purposes. Swortzell was assisting Rex Stephenson with a production of Gulliver's Travels to be performed in March. One photo of Swortzell with a Ferrum student. See article by Susan Moles, above, from same page of this paper.
Tate, Debra. "NYU Teacher Impressed with Jack Tales." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 31 Oct. 1977. Article about positive impressions from Dr. Nellie McCaslin on the Jack Tale Players' performance at Dudley Elementary School in Franklin County. "This is the best work in children's theatre I've seen come from a college in this country," said the expert on educational theatre. The enjoyment of the children at the Dudley performance is described. Photo of the Jack Tale Players at Dudley Elem. included.
"Telling Tales." The Smith Mountain Lake Eagle [Smith Mountain Lake, VA], 31 May 2000, pp. A8. Photo of Old Woman and her three daughters (played by Jody Brown, Christie Edwards, Rex Stephenson, and Tonya Neeley) in new folktale, "Mutsmag," with announcement of the Jack Tale Players' spring tour sponsored by the Franklin Guild.
"Theatre '76 at Ferrum." Ferrum College Bulletin, Nov. 1976, p. 8. Seven photos of Rex Stephenson and other scenes from Ferrum College theatre.
"35 Years of Jack Tales." The Ferrum Blog, 14 Dec. 2010. Posted by John Carlin. Photo (copied at left) and text of faculty resolution presented to Rex Stephenson by Lana Whited, Ferrum College Faculty Council chair, congratulating the Jack Tale Players on 35 years of service to the college and community. Also "35 years of Jack's Antics" acknowledged with photo in Ferrum College Merry Christmas video/year in review. YouTube.com, Dec. 22, 2010.
"This Week's Best Bet." News Messenger, 10 July 2004. Photo of Jack Tale Players with announcement of performances at libraries in Floyd and Montgomery Counties, VA, funded by VA Commission for the Arts.
Tukloff, Joyce. "BRDT Show Was a Vibrant Triumph." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 8 July 2005. A review of Just So Stories by Stephenson and Tucker.
Tukloff, Joyce. "Life on the Mississippi: More Adventures of Huck and Tom." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 2001. Review of adaptation of Mark Twain stories, written and directed by Rex Stephenson at the Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre.
Tukloff, Joyce. "'The Littlest Shepherd' is Filled with Imagination, Heart, and Humor." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], Dec. 2009. Review of BRDT Christmas play by Stephenson and Tucker, The Littlest Shepherd.
Tukloff, Joyce. "'The New Snow White' is Pure Magic." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], late summer 2000. Review of The New Snow White written by Stephenson for the BRDT in 2000.
Tukloff, Joyce. Review of The Wizard of Oz. The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 26 July 2010, pp. A3-4. With photo of Jody D. Brown as the Wicked Witch of the West scaring Emily Rose Tucker as Dorothy. Tukloff praises every aspect of the "stellar" production, observing that in every BRDT performance "there is a perceptible camaraderie among the directors, musicians, actors and crew that always results in a dynamic production." Tukloff quotes audience members Will Ardis ("energetic") and Harold Mullins of Ferrum, who said that BRDT is a "really talented group and that we're lucky to have so much talent in the county." Tukloff ended, "Once again, Rex Stephenson has directed an excellent family play."
Tukloff, Joyce. "Revisit your Childhood with 'Alice in Wonderland.'" The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 31 July 2009, p. A9. Review of Alice in Wonderland: The Musical, adapted and directed by Stephenson, with music by Jon Cohn. Photo of cast children in roles of playing cards appeared in 27 July issue.
Turner-Lewis, Susan. "Theatre: Expert Gives Tips on Techniques in Drama to Students at Ferrum College Department." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA]. Clipping with unidentified date in papers of the BRDT/Jack Tale Players, Ferrum College, probably 1981. Photo included of Nellie McCaslin (Stephenson's graduate school mentor visiting from NYU) with college student Ray Knotts of Rocky Mount. Article about McCaslin sharing drama tips and techniques for children's theatre. After touring with the students to Jack tale performances, McCaslin commented that, since her visit four years earlier, the actors "have grown through trial and error and through repeated performances" and at a Martinsville school, "the children participated spontaneously" and "entered right into the spirit of it."
Tuttle, Bruce. "A Man, a Movement, a Ministry." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 29 June 2007, p. A5. Review of The World is My Parish, a play by Stephenson and Mike Trochim about the life of John Wesley.
"Two Performances Set At Ferrum." The Franklin County Times, 8 Jan. 1976. With a photo of Wanda Edwards of Goshen, Julie Moore of Roanoke, and Elliott Stone of Martinsville sharpening an ax in a scene from the show. Local article about the Jack Tale Players in their first month of performances in schools. See also "County Legend" article above. Two performances of the 55-minute play were scheduled on campus Jan. 8 and 9. "This week the play was taken to elementary schools in Henry County, Roanoke, Martinsville, Franklin County and Richmond. The play will be presented today (Thursday) at Burnt Chimney Elementary and Rocky Mount Elementary. Friday the play will be presented at Ferrum Elementary."
United Methodist News Service. "Play Shows United Methodists' 250 Years of Involvement...." 19 June 1998. Worldwide Faith News Network. Accessed 14 Sept. 2015.
"USO Show Set Tuesday at Altoona VA Hospital." 24 Nov. 1978. Newspaper clipping in Jack Tale Players scrapbook with no newspaper title given.
Van Patten, John. "Jack Tale Tour." Ferrum College Bulletin. No date on clipping. Full-page article with photo about the Jack Tale Players' USO tour.
"Variety Reigns in Drama Dept. "The Iron Blade [Ferrum College, VA], 29 Mar. 1979, p. 7. Full-page spread with eight photos of Jack Tale Players, Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre, and USO shows. Photos by Don Scott.
Vincent, N. Michelle. "Father and 14-Year-Old Son Interview Professors for National History Day Project." Originally published in The Iron Blade [Ferrum College, VA], 21 Feb. 2005. Article on award-winning video by Stephen Gordon discusses Stephenson as consultant who appears in the video.
Vorobeva, Anastasia. "'The Jack Tales' Playwright Finds CU Production 'Terrifically Enjoyable.'" The Princeton [WV] Times. 1 Dec. 2017. One photo of the cast singing is included. Article about Stephenson driving from Virginia to Concord University on Nov. 11 to watch the last performance of his adaptations of Jack Tales. Student actors describe being nervous, which "helped us really step up our game." Through their improvisational method, they added jokes about Concord and student life. Stephenson praised the energy of the performance. The director Karen Vuranch said the tales "rejoice in the uniqueness of the Appalachian culture. They are not about barefoot hillbillies making moonshine in the hills, but show a wise and irrepressible attitude towards life.” Vuranch chose five tales for this production. The article does not say that their retelling of "Jack's First Job" was not one of Stephenson's adaptations.
Vorobeva, Anastasia. "Students Compete for a Spot in the Next Big Theatre Production." The Concordian, 15 Sept. 2017. Article about auditions for Concord University's Nov. 8-11 production of Stephenson's The Jack Tales, in Athens, WV. The tales chosen by director Karen Vuranch for this production were "Jack and the Witch’s Tale," "Wicked John and the Devil," "Jack Fear-No-Man," and "Jack’s First Job" (the latter not from Stephenson's script). Jack Sheffler, Chair of the Fine Arts department, is one of the performers.
Way, Jenny. The Martinsville [VA] Bulletin 24 June 1979. This article about the making of Too Free for Me is quoted extensively in Stephenson's dissertation White Column Mansions (p. 68). No article title is given. The dissertation describes how the article "recorded the playwright-director's use of the improvisational technique and his frustration with cliches and lack of imagination."
Weng, Lisa. "Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre is a Great Place to Catch Dinner and a Show." Danville Register & Bee, 27 May 1999, pp. C1, 5. The Scene: Arts and Entertainment in the Dan River Region, cover story. Photos from previous season are of We Band of Brothers, 1998; Jungle Book, 1997; and Too Free for Me. The article gives an overview of the 20th season of BRDT with comments by Stephenson. They selected Our Town to look back at the early twentieth century from the eve of the twenty-first century. "Overall, Stephenson said of the dinner theater, 'We just tend to do good American drama.'" He commented on expanding from the theatre's original focus on local history plays to draw in a wider audience. Stephenson explained that menus are selected to relate to the plays and said, "We try to break down the wall between actors and audience. We want the actors to get to know the audience and vice versa, so we're not as formal as some dinner theaters are....We are one of the few (college) dinner theaters on the East Coast that isn't funded by the college...We're completely self-supportive, so it is an undertaking for us."
Wentworth, Anna. "Blue Ridge Dinner Theater Opens Season." The Roanoke Times and Roanoke.com, June 2001. Article and interview with director Stephenson.
Wentworth, Anna. "Casting, Direction Make The Nerd a Hoot." The Roanoke Times and Roanoke.com, 9 June 2000. Review of Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre production directed by Stephenson. Wentworth praises the performances by Michael Trochim (who "does some of his best work here"), Anthony Pica, Rebecca Morris, Joe Ray, Jody Brown, Sylvia Woodyard, and Noel Todd Necessary. "Good direction from veteran director R. Rex Stephenson helps, of course. 'The Nerd' is hilarious at times and consistently entertaining."
Wentworth, Anna. "Creative Drama: Weekend Spent at Mountain Lodge Full of Improvisation and Awareness." Southern Theatre: Quarterly Magazine of the Southeastern Theatre Conference, pp. 26-29. Date unidentified.
Wentworth, Anna. "The Foreigner at Home at Ferrum." The Roanoke Times and Roanoke.com, 8 June, 1999. Review of play by Larry Shue directed by Stephenson at the Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre.
Wentworth, Anna. "Old-Fashioned Play Makes Sweet Fantasy." The Roanoke Times and Roanoke.com, June 2001. Review of The Enchanted Cottage, directed by Stephenson at the Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre.
Wentworth, Anna. "Rarely Done Noel Coward Play Opens at Ferrum." The Roanoke Times and Roanoke.com, 13 June, 2002. Review of Waiting in the Wings, and interview with director Stephenson, with three photos of at the Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre production.
Wentworth, Anna. "Shakespeare Got it Wrong on Richard III, or so He Says." The Roanoke Times and Roanoke.com, 1998 archives. Review of Glorious Son of York, with "How a Rose Led to a Play," background from playwright Stephenson.
Wentworth, Anna. "This Show Rewards a Drive to Ferrum." The Roanoke Times and Roanoke.com, 1997 archives. Review of Twelve Angry Virginians, directed by Stephenson at the Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre.
Whited, Lana A. "BRDT Historical Play Still 'Roars' True." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount. VA], 3 July 1992, p. B6. Review of The Roar of Silence, written and directed by Rex Stephenson at the Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre. The review discusses the historical accuracy of the play about an 1889 fire and court case in Rocky Mount, the continuing relevance of the message about racism, and the complexity of the play's effects on the audience as the musical comedy of a minstrel show is blended with very serious themes. The play "reminds us that we are lucky to have Rex Stephenson and the BRDT working in Franklin County preserving our history and reminding us that we have still not overcome it."
Whited, Lana A. "BRDT Stages Visit of Famous Musician." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], 22 May 2002, p. A4. Article on development of the 2002 play My Travels with Cecil, about English folklorist Cecil Sharp's travels collecting folklore in this region.
Whited, Lana A. "Jack Tale Players to Honor Children's Theater Pioneer McCaslin." The Iron Blade [Ferrum College, VA], 20 Feb. 2006, pp. 1, 2. Whited describes Stephenson's enduring relationship with his professor and mentor, Dr. Nellie McCaslin, who died Feb. 18, 2005 in New York at age 90. The Jack Tale Players planned a performance Mar. 1, participating in an international series of benefit programs honoring McCaslin. The Ferrum performance would benefit the Franklin County Humane Society. The article reviews McCaslin's distinguished career, her performances at the Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre in her 80s, and comments from Stephenson and Emily Rose Tucker about her profound influence. Includes a photo of the Jack Tale Players performing "Hardy Hard Head" and a photo of McCaslin taken a week before her death.
Whited, Lana A. "Too Free for Me Concludes BRDT Anniversary Season." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], July 2004. Review of revival of play based on Franklin County history. Full text reprinted in AppLit Articles section.
Whited, Lana A. "A Trip Backwards in Time." The Franklin News-Post [Rocky Mount, VA], July 1998, p. A5. No date on clipping in papers of the BRDT/Jack Tale Players at Ferrum College. Review of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, an adaptation of Mark Twain's book written by Rex Stephenson for the BRDT. The review is written for children to interest them in the novel and play.
Wiatrowski, Kevin. "Troupe Wows Children with Jack Tales." Unidentified source and date on clipping. Article (with some errors in names) about Jack Tale Players performances in Pittsylvania County at Stony Mill Elementary School and Brosville Middle Schools, before traveling on to Baltimore. Photo by Doug Koontz of "Jack and the Three Giants"; "Wicked John" was also performed. Probably Danville Register & Bee 1990 since it says Stephenson's Jack tales would soon be published and Wiatrowski was a staff writer there Jan. 1990-Jan. 1991.
Willis, Trudy. "Ferrum Play Recounts Bleak Reconstruction." The Roanoke Times and News World 1 Aug. 1980. The article quotes Ferrum College historian Andrew Baskin on the complexities of studying information about Reconstruction for Stephenson's play Charity for All. It is "colored with so much emotion," since the South was the first section of this country to lose a war.
Willis, Trudy. "Jack Tales To Do Tour." The Roanoke Times, 9 Nov. 1978. Article about Stephenson's Jack Tale Players preparing for their first USO tour to VA hospitals during Thanksgiving vacation. The 13 performers prepared four hours of material for the two-week tour. The USO changed focus by signing Ferrum's college group as the USO program was expanded to reach the 172 VA hospitals across the U.S. Geri Washburn, a talent scout from the USO, saw the tours for patients who could not get out for entertainment as "a part of home that can be brought to the veterans." She observed that college groups "go over well in VA Hospitals...because of their attitude: 'Their freshness and excitement exudes. They express a sincere interest in the patients,'" while overseas shows for younger GIs are more polished and contemporary. Looking for "personality and ability to relate to audiences," Washburn stated that "'I can tell almost immediately when a group has what it takes.' She signed the Ferrum troupe the day she auditioned them." This article was reprinted in The Ferrum College Bulletin, Fall 1978, p. 7, with the headline "'Jack Tale Players' Begin Five-State USO Tour." Five photos show John Van Patten playing the banjo, a performance at the recent Blue Ridge Folklife Festival, and Rex Stephenson talking with classroom teachers while filming one of ten television shows about creative drama at WBRA in Roanoke.
Willis, Trudy. "Play Stimulates Improvisation and Research." The Roanoke Times and News World 3 July 1979. This article about the making of Too Free for Me is quoted extensively in Stephenson's dissertation White Column Mansions (pp. 66-67). This passage describes scenes that enabled Stephenson to train Suzy Whitaker to play the role of Susan Stockton, the sister of Cassandra Choice who, in the play, obeys her husband (unlike Cassandra) and won't acknowledge that she knows Indiana Choice is free. The difficulties of using improvisation to develop a play are discussed.
Willis, Trudy. "Players Present 'Too Free for Me.'" Ferrum College Bulletin, Summer 1979, pp. 6-7. With ten photos. The article reprinted from The Roanoke Times in early July describes in some detail the process of creating the play in an intensive summer theatre session in which actors directed by Stephenson studied historical documents and used improvisation to develop their roles. With 7 photos of performers as well as photos of Dr. Doug Foard and Dr. Richard Smith leading audience discussions, and professor Andrew Baskin, who also participated in historical research.
Willis, Trudy. "The Tall Tales They Tell Would Make Jack Proud." The Roanoke Times, 9 Mar. 1977, Tempo section. Article with several performance photos explains Appalachian version of "Jack and the Beanstalk" that the Jack Tale Players performed. In their second year, Stephenson's dramatizations were in so much demand that he formed two groups, the Ferrum Jack Tale Players and the Jack Tale Storytellers, with a second year of support from the Virginia Commission of the Arts and Humanities. In a performance at Northside High School in Roanoke County for gifted upper elementary students, many children volunteered to dance and play instruments along with the performers. All of the college student performers were required to conduct research on the tales. James Taylor Adams' collection of thousands of pages of folklore from Wise County was on loan to Ferrum from Clinch Valley College at this time. Debbie Scott from Ararat commented on performing the tales "with the children, not at them." Leo Grover from Nelson County was planning to research a woman who had told his grandfather many tales. Helene Idels of New Providence, NJ discussed concern about her accent after an audience member gave her the book "How to Speak Southern." J. P. McNally from Roanoke talked about learning the tales without much use of scripts and telling them a little differently each time, like traditional storytellers.
Womack, Rocky. "Folklore Players Entrance Students." Danville Register [Danville, VA], 5 Mar. 1986. Article with tale summaries, performer list, and photo of Jack Tale Players performing at Park Avenue Elementary School. Stephenson was turning down one-fourth of requests received for shows because of their college schedules. He commented on achieving success by trusting the material and avoiding condescending or inappropriate kinds of jokes. Performers commented on benefits of their experience. Eike Campbell noted that he hoped his performance would encourage other black students and those with handicaps (since he had missing fingers).
Wray, Ginny. "'Too Free for Me.'" Bulletin Staff Writer. Clipping with unidentified newspaper title and date in papers of the BRDT/Jack Tale Players, Ferrum College. This article about Too Free for Me before the script was completed is most likely from The Martinsville Bulletin in spring 1979. It discusses the history of the Indiana Choice case, aspects of slavery in Franklin County that were not stereotypical, research by Ferrum College historians and drama students, and Stephenson's improvisational methods of developing the play based on accurate but not detailed historical materials. With a photo of Stephenson and a depiction of slavery from a Harper's Weekly illustration.
Wuergler, Bryce. "Jack Tale Players Reunite." The Iron Blade [Ferrum College, VA], 28 Nov. 2012. Front page. Short article about the Jack Tale Players reunion show at the Folklife Festival Oct. 27. This final performance followed over 3000 shows and 500,000 miles of traveling in over 37 years. Alumna Aleksandra Battek Melson commented, "I performed in my first Jack Tale show in 2004 when I was 16 and throughout the years it has been pure magic putting smiles on the faces of people of all ages. My memories with the Jack Tales are among some of the best I have and I still sing the songs and read the stories to my son today." Includes photo of Emily Rose Tucker playing Jack.
Top of Page
Complete List of Plays and Tales by Rex Stephenson (2020 PDF at this link)
The Jack Tale Storytellers and Jack Tale Players Web Site
Study Guides for Jack Tales Dramas
R. Rex Stephenson Web Page
R. Rex Stephenson LinkedIn Page
Author Page at Eldridge Plays Web Site
Author Page at Leicester Bay Theatricals
Dickens' A Christmas Carol - Act 1 and Dickens' A Christmas Carol - Act 2. YouTube, uploaded by Tina Hanlon, June 28, 2017. Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, adapted by Rex Stephenson, directed by Anthony Pica at Menchville High School, Virginia, December 2015.
Photos of performances of Jack Tales, "Mutsmag," "Ashpet," and "The Three Old Women's Bet"
(Photos at top of this page, by Ken McCreedy, are from "Mutsmag.")
Jack Tales Last Performance Photos by Ken McCreedy. July 24, 2012. Ferrum College Flickr albums.
Photos of 2011 Heidi production, by Ken McCreedy, in Ferrum College Flickr albums
"Mike Trochim Retirement PowerPoint, December 2016." Compiled by Tina L. Hanlon for Ferrum College retirement reception. YouTube, Dec. 16, 2016. Includes many photos of Trochim in BRDT performances, as well as photos of Trochim and Stephenson doing research and information on plays they co-wrote.
"A Night of Jack Tales Documentary." LHS Drama Club, YouTube, 4:33 min. Chris Shary of Lincoln High School (place not identified) narrates this video about his beginning drama class directing and performing Jack Tales (apparently Stephenson's adaptations). Students talk about directing "Jack and the Witch's Tale," "Jack and the Robbers," and "Jack Fear-No-Man."
Article on The Jack Tale Players, 1996
Article on Strong Women in Appalachian Folktale Dramatizations by R. Rex Stephenson, 2001-02
Southeastern Theatre Conference, Inc. Scholarships and Awards. Sara Spencer Child Drama Award, 2007
Grandmother Tales performed in Dec. 2003 at Radford University's Pridemore Playhouse, directed by Aaron Davis. (Short review in Radford's The Tartan. Radford PR page with rehearsal photo—no longer online.)
Jack Tales Comes to Life on Stage at LMST. Notes and photo of June 2004 performance. Lees-McCrae College, Banner Elk, NC. (link not functioning 1/14/07)
Jack Tale Players Benefit Performance March 1. Press release and Iron Blade article and Pictures from performance.
R. Rex Stephenson Honored at Start of 25th BRDT Season. Ferrum College press release with photos.
Other Ferrum College Press Releases:
Includes photos of The World is My Parish, The Odd Couple, Waiting in the Wings, Treasure Island, other theatre news.
"Noah to be Published." Ferrum Magazine, Winter 2000. Available online at www.ferrum.edu.
Ferrum Alum to Premiere New Stephenson Play on Peninsula (Apr. 18, 2004)
BRDT Revives First Play for 25th Anniversary - Too Free for Me (July 6, 2004)
Old Michie Theatre to Present Stephenson’s Treasure Island (Jan. 2005)
30th Anniversary of Jack Tales to be Celebrated Dec. 9th (2005)
Jack Tale Players Perform Tribute to Nellie McCaslin (photos Mar. 1, 2006)
BRDT Recipient of VFH Discretionary Grant (Mar. 10, 2006)
Odd Couple to Open BRDT Season (2006)
Auditions for Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre (Mar. 5, 2007)
R. Rex Stephenson Receives 2007 SETC Child Drama Award (March 2007)
The Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre at Ferrum College To Hold Auditions March 29 (Mar. 19, 2008)
Nunsense II: The Second Coming Opens at Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre (Mar. 28, 2008)
Ferrum College Fe Newsletter Sept. 2008
Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre Experiments with Rocky Mount Venue (Oct. 17, 2008)
Also in The Iron Blade 27 Oct. 2008
The Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre Presents: "Arsenic and Old Lace" (July 1, 2009)
Rex's Last Stand, in Ferrum Magazine Winter 2010-11, pp. 32-33
Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre Opens 2011 Season with Radio Gals (June 8, 2011)
Ferrum College Well Represented at Children’s Literature Conference (June 21, 2011)
Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre Offers Free Tickets to Kids Who Read (June 27, 2011)
Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre on WDBJ-7 - Gabriel's Honky Tonk Angels (July 11, 2011)
Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre Presents Showtime at First Baptist (July 15, 2011)
Blue Ridge Adaptation of Heidi Closes Season at Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre (July 29, 2011)
Cast of Heidi Interviewed on WDBJ7 (Aug. 1, 2011)
The 1998 "Anna" Awards include The World is My Parish as one of the year's best plays in the region. This page also contains a "very special recognition" to "Dr. R. Rex Stephenson for best use of history in original drama, comedy and musical productions." Upstaged! with Anna Wentworth. Roanoke.com.
The 1999 "Anna" Award Nominees include Glorious Son of York by Stephenson and We Band of Brothers by Stephenson and Mike Trochim as two of the year's best plays in the region. Also Cliff Todd in We Band of Brothers and Jon Cohn in Twelve Angry Virginians are named among the year's best actors. Upstaged! with Anna Wentworth. Roanoke.com.
Feminist Fairy Tales by Nancy J. Keane lists The Liberated Godfather and "Mutsmag," 1999-2001.
This page created May 2000 | Links checked 6/07/02 | Site Index | Top of page | Last update: 12/22/20
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