Co-founders Jenny Odle Madden and Alice Rainey Berry created Voices of the South in 1995. The impulse to found the organization grew out of a shared desire to bring audiences theater, which utilizes the "narrative" style.
What is narrative theater?
Often the act of adapting literature to the stage involves starting from scratch. Often the author’s original words, his or her rhythm, pacing, structure, and style are dismantled in order to accommodate the expectations of the modern theater going audience. Narrative theater is quite different.
Narrative theater, as we define it, begins with the process of adapting literature for the stage. The actors perform the natural sentence structure (the "he saids" and "she saids") and search to bring to life the poetic imagery alive in each story. The actors interpret not only language and character, but also the author’s style, structure, rhythm, and pace. The goal is to experience a story as a living thing and experience a play with the kind of intimacy with which one might crack open the spine of a favorite book.
The result is a transformative experience in the theater. This is the goal of Voices of the South, to share the art of theater by illuminating the heart and voice of short stories, novels, poetry, and creative non-fiction.
While in residency, Voices of the South focuses on performing two short stories that are selected by the producing organization. These performances include the arrival of two actors who will act out the narrative pieces. More than one performance may be purchased, and special arrangements for lecture and workshop are available as well.
The workshop/lecture provides a full and rounded view of the artistic process that Voices of the South utilizes in creating evocative theatre.
“The Window” by Eleanor Glaze
“Humming Song” by Eleanor Glaze
“Listening” from One Writers Beginnings by Eudora Welty
“Why I Live at the P.O.” by Eudora Welty
Any two of the four stories make a nice and original presentation for all audiences.
About the Stories and Authors
"THE WINDOW" is the story of Miss Manifest, an elderly woman who finds herself “between a rock and a hard place.” At dusk, upon returning from her weekly grocery store visit, Miss Manifest discovers that she has accidentally locked herself from the comforts of her home. Armed with wit, wisdom, and three cans of soup, she spends the evening strategizing a way back inside to her dictionary, a warm bed, and the life she has grown to love.
AUTHOR ELEANOR GLAZE, born in Columbus, Missouri, like many authors has had many part-time jobs to facilitate her writing career. Having been a nurse’s aide and teacher, just to name a couple, Glaze is able to transport us into the different worlds of her characters with authority. Having moved to Memphis, Tennessee, as a young girl, Glaze attended Memphis City Schools and still resides in Memphis. She subscribes to the Buddhist philosophy and was winner of the Breadloaf Writer’s Conference Publisher’s Award in 1971.
ONE WRITER’S BEGINNINGS
“LISTENING” is the first chapter of Eudora Welty’s autobiography. In this production, we take a lyrical look into the author’s childhood, exploring memory, family, and her life-long love of words.
“Why I Live at the P.O.” is among the best loved of Eudora Welty's acclaimed short stories. Welty's wit, whimsy, and extraordinary ear for southern banter are the centerpiece of this Voices of the South classic. Peppered with wonderfully eccentric characters, this comic short story follows the trials and tribulations of Sister as she recounts her mad-capped quest for liberation from her family.
AUTHOR EUDORA WELTY (1909 – 2001) was one of the most important and beloved American writers of the twentieth century. A master of the short story form, Welty also wrote novels, novellas, and essays, and by the time of her death in 2001 she had received nearly every literary award possible, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Gold Medal for Fiction from the National Institute of Arts and Letters, and the French Legion of Honor medal which honored her international level of recognition. Born in Jackson, Mississippi, her writer’s sensibility was formed and informed by a sense of place. Her earliest short stories were first published when she was in her early 30’s. Why I Live at the P.O. is one of the most enduring and popular of those. She wrote her memoir One Writer’s Beginnings, when she was at the age of seventy-five. Some have called it more than a memoir—rather, “a gentle reflective book, full of insights into the nature of memories.”