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30th Anniversary of Jack Tales to be Celebrated December 9th

For immediate release:
October 31, 2005

 Dean Browell ,  (540) 365-4301,

    On December 9, 2005 Rex Stephenson will re-create the first full-length Jack Tale performance by returning to Callaway Elementary School as part of the Jack Tales 30th year anniversary. In 1975, R. Rex Stephenson recognized the importance of dramatizing Appalachian folktales and presenting them to youth and adults regionally, nationally, and internationally. The performance will begin at 2:00 p.m. with media invited to attend.

     The first full-length performance of the Jack Tales premiered at Callaway Elementary in December of 1975.

     Throughout their history, regional and national media has recognized the importance of the Jack Tale Players. Shortly after they began, Katherine Calos wrote in the Richmond News Leader, January 16, 1976, “A simpleton named Jack has been giving some sophisticated lessons in fantasy and reality to students in Richmond public schools.” On February 9, 1987, the late-playwright, Aurand Harris, wrote “I have seen his unique stage productions of the Jack Tales which he has toured in the state and nationally to great acclaim. He has rekindled an interest in Virginia Folklore by showing children – and adults – part of their historical heritage. He is a master a dramatizing these stories and directing them on the stage for popular entertainment.” On January 27, 1993, Patricia Whitton, publisher and The College of the American Theatre Fellow, said, “I asked the fourth grade teachers, whose classes were given over to the project [a drama residence program using Jack Tales] several days a week all during January, if these interruptions gave them any problems in meeting the regular curricular requirements. They all agreed that it was not a problem – ‘the curriculum is being covered, but some of it in different ways.’ The drama work, while primarily tying into the unit on folklore, also enhanced language development, social studies such as geography, and even physical education, through the dances.” On October 21, 1997, Nellie McCaslin, then professor of drama at New York University, declared, “Professor Stephenson has done an extraordinary job in developing the Jack Tales troupe which has appeared at conventions, in schools, at hospitals, community centers, and retirement homes. Theatre for children and theatre for adults are enriched by the outstanding work of Rex Stephenson, and students are fortunate who have studied with him.”

     Since 1975, the Jack Tale Players have performed to over a half million children and adults. The troupe currently tours eleven months a year with its most active period in May, June, and July. Children who first saw Jack Tale performances in elementary school have grown up to become company members. The East Central Theatre Conference has recognized Stephenson for his excellence in theatre partially because of his leadership of the Jack Tale Players. The IUPUI National Youth Theatre Playwriting Competition has recognized Jack’s Adventures with the King’s Girl with an Excellence in Playwriting award. Stephenson has introduced children in thirty-four states, England, Canada, and Australia to this icon of Appalachian heritage.

     For more information about the Jack Tale Players, please contact Dr. R. Rex Stephenson, Founder and Artistic Director, Ferrum College at (540) 365-4335 or by email:
     Ferrum College is a four-year, private, co-educational, liberal arts college affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Ferrum offers a choice of nationally recognized bachelor’s degree programs at a cost well below the national average for private colleges. For more information on Ferrum, visit



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