Sneak preview of new play offered at Piedmont College Feb. 23
Feb 16, 2017 12:53PM
● By Tracy McCoy
White County author Emory Jones is adapting his historical novel, “The Valley Where They Danced,” into a play—and you are invited to help.
The Piedmont College summer ensemble, North Georgia Theatre, will perform the play in June, and will hold a “read through” of the script at 7:30 p.m., Feb. 23, at the college’s Swanson Center Mainstage in Demorest.
Jones said everyone is invited to attend the free event, and he and director Bill Gabelhausen will be seeking feedback from the audience. “The actors have had the script for about a month, and will be reading through it without sets or costumes,” he said. “This will give us a chance to hear the lines for the first time with an audience.”
“The Valley Where They Danced” is set in Sautee Nacoochee Valley about 1919, just after World War I. A young doctor from Macon, Georgia, Tom Garrison, moves to “The Valley” to start a new practice, taking over for the community’s long-serving local doctor. Many of the people he meets are based on actual residents of the time, but the story tells a fictional tale of the enduring quality of love.
Without giving away too much of the plot, Jones said the story is loosely based on a newspaper article he read years ago about a real doctor from middle Georgia who had moved to the Valley. As he researched the novel over a 10-year period, he carefully noted incidents and details about the lives of the people who lived there at the time, many of whom he had known while growing up in White County. “One of the most important things to me is that the play and the book preserves the history and the dialogue of that era,” Jones said.
The book, which enjoys five-star status on Amazon after almost 100 reviews, was released in 2014, and Jones soon began entertaining the idea of adapting it as play. He approached Piedmont theatre professor, Kathy Blandin, and the two began the long process of retelling the story for the stage. “I think we are in the 10th revision at this point, but it tells basically the same story, just in a different format,” Jones said.
“Danced” is Jones’ fifth book, but first novel. He has written “White County 101,” and “Distant Voices: The Story of the Nacoochee Valley Indian Mound.” With Helen videographer David Greear, he has produced two documentaries: “Distant Voices,” also about Sautee Nacoochee; and “Memories of a Mountain Shortline,” about the Tallulah Falls Railroad, as well as a comprehensive northeast Georgia travel guide narrated by the late artist John Kollock of Clarkesville.