Cast of Eight Recreates "The Last Journey of No. 6330"
October 9, 2008
Drawing on a cast of eight and a few puppets to create a world of characters, the Catawba College Theatre Arts Department brings to life "The Last Journey of No. 6330." The production will be performed in Hedrick Little Theatre on campus at 6:55 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 15, at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 16-18, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 19. A special free performance of the play will be offered at the Spencer Shops' Roundhouse at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 25.
N.C. Transportation Museum Executive Director Elizabeth Smith relates that Catawba College's performance follows the mission of the museum, "to educate the public on our rich transportation heritage." Smith credits Catawba's staff and faculty for "this innovative play developed and compiled from the oral histories, letters and journals of workers of the Southern Railway Company's Spencer Shops."
Professor Pulliam directs "6330" with music direction by Jesse Hunter, who also composed songs for the show. It follows Southern Railway's last steam locomotive on her final journey through Spencer, N.C. in 1953, and examines in story and song, the lives of local working people affected by the railroad.
Southern Railway was the first class I railroad in the U.S. to convert completely to diesel locomotives in 1953, leaving steam locomotives like No. 6330 behind as a remnant of a fleeting past. The last journey of No. 6330 marked the end of an era and the beginning of a new one where human ingenuity, science, business and politics led the country in a new direction.
Each cast member will play a folk instrument — a banjo, a guitar, a devil stick, a harmonium and even a steel pipe. The music is the style sung by ordinary people before records, radio and television homogenized regional sounds into genres like "country" and "folk." This is music from a time when everybody sang at home, in church and at work; when music was not a passive activity, but rather something everyone did in community.
Movement in the production will range from "gandy dancing," the synchronized movement of the work gangs moving steel rails, to "assembly dances," steps used by folks dancing for pleasure.
The performers bringing local history to life include junior Caitlin Becka of Wilmington, N.C.; senior Aaron Ganas of Milwaukee, Wis.; sophomore Ryan Glidewell of Marietta, Ga.; sophomore Carrie Harris of Asheville, N.C.; junior Amber Hughes of Seattle, Wash.; senior Jesse Hunter of Powder Springs, Ga.; junior Yolanda McClure of Eden, N.C.; and sophomore Kat Tierney of Smyrna, Ga.
The production staff for "The Last Journey of No. 6330" includes senior Patricia Adkins of Summerfield, N.C., stage manager; freshman Vaughn Pollman of Overland Park, Kansas, assistant stage manager; senior Claire Alston, dramaturge of Kernersville, N.C.; Professor Pulliam, director/scenic design; Professor Christopher Zink, lighting design; senior Corey Burckhalter of Elma, N.Y., costume design; senior Dan Koppenhaver of Boone, N.C., technical director; junior Carmen Bartlett of Charlotte, N.C., multimedia; freshmen Christine Caldemeyer of Mills River, N.C., first hand; Miranda Smith of Salisbury, N.C., hair, make-up and mask design; junior Amanda Lederer of Bradenton, Fla., props master; sophomore Chris Herring of Oakboro, N.C., puppet master; and senior Christopher Young of Baltimore, Md.
Tickets for "The Last Journey of No. 6330" are $10 for adults and $8 for senior citizens and non-Catawba students and group rates are available. Contact the Catawba College Theatre Box Office at (704) 637-4481.