Chattanooga Now 'Mill Fire' opens UTC Theatre season - Oct. 1-5

Chattanooga Now 'Mill Fire' opens UTC Theatre season - Oct. 1-5

Playwright to visit on opening night

September 26th, 2013 by Staff Report in Chattanooga Now - Art

Erin Skelley, Heather Chang, Erin England and Maya Abram, from left, appear in the UTC Theatre production of "Mill Fire," opening Tuesday in the Dorothy Hackett Ward Theatre in the UTC Fine Arts Center.

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.


• What: "Mill Fire."

• When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, Oct. 1-4; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5

• Where: Dorothy Hackett Ward Theatre, UTC Fine Arts Center, 752 Vine St.

• Admission: $12 adults, $10 students and seniors

• Phone: 423-425-4269 (box office), 423-425-4374 (UTC Theatre Department)

• Website:

• Note: Discussion with playwright Sally Nemeth follows Tuesday's production.


"It's a straightforward enough story, but Nemeth tells it in a way that stunningly recapitulates the crazy-quilt patterns of memory. Creating a collage of time, sensation, inner thought and overt action, she twists the past and the present so that the intensity of pleasure, pain and loss becomes truly excruciating. And in the process, she reminds us of how ephemeral life is, and how crucially important each minute should be, though, of course, never can be."

-- Chicago Sun-Times

"Mill Fire," described as "a striking and gritty play about forgiveness and the power of community," will open the 2013-14 season for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's Department of Theatre of Speech. Playwright Sally Nemeth will visit on opening night, Tuesday, Oct. 1.

Set in Birmingham, Ala., in 1978, the play follows the journey of Marlene as she wrestles with the accidental death of her husband. Director Gaye Jeffers says the plot is revealed in a beautifully poetic style, inviting the viewer to enter the past and relive the events of the night that forever changed a community of steel workers and their wives.

"I was drawn to Sally Nemeth's play because of the strong and powerful young woman who is at the core of this work," says Jeffers. "Many of us have or will face a life-altering event, as the character of Marlene does in 'Mill Fire.' Marlene's fight is with the past, and Nemeth's use of time shifts and ghostly apparitions is a wonderfully rich reminder of the power of the human spirit to push through the tough times."

Nemeth will take part in a post-show discussion during her visit, as well as offer a writing workshop for students and community members. Her work includes award-winning plays as well as writing for television series such as "Law & Order."

This production will showcase nine UTC theater students as well as the designs of two new faculty members: set designer Adam Miecielica, a visiting assistant professor, and costume designer Stephanie Henderson, who recently designed opera in Italy. Other production staff members include John R. Burgess as lighting designer and technical director, and UTC Theatre student Cricket Glenn as stage manager.