Chattanooga Now 'Old Ties' wins Chattanooga Theatre Centre's Biennial Festival of New Plays

Chattanooga Now 'Old Ties' wins Chattanooga Theatre Centre's Biennial Festival of New Plays

Original play by Rex Knowles will be presented and three runners-up will have staged readings

April 20th, 2017 by Susan Pierce in Chattanooga Now - Art

The wait for the medical examiner is long, so Hank (Rex Knowles) tries to fill time by getting up a card game with a family member (Nikki Sneed) and the two policemen (Octavius Lanier and Jared Kane) who are waiting with him.

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

If you go

› What: “Old Ties” by Rex Knowles

› Where: Chattanooga Theatre Centre, 400 River St.

› When: 8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, April 21-22, 28-29 and May 5-6; 7 p.m. Thursdays, April 27 and May 4; 2:30 p.m. Sundays, April 30 and May 7

› Admission: $30 opening night, $25 Fridays and Saturdays; $12.50-$25 Thursdays and Sundays

› For more information: 423-267-8534

Cast

Officer Thirkill: Octavius Lanier

Officer Scardoni: Jared Lane

Ann: Nikki Sneed

Hank: Rex Knowles

Special events

› Friday, April 21: Opening night drinks before curtain, desserts following performance.

› Saturday, April 22: Playwrights honored following performance. Checks presented.

› Thursday, April 27: Real-time captioning for deaf and hard-of-hearing patrons.

› Friday, April 28: Talk-back with cast, playwright and director after the show.

› Friday, May 5: Girls’ Night Out sponsored by Brewer Media, complimentary drinks and snacks at 7 p.m.

A friend's story shared over breakfast in a New York deli sparked the idea for a play that won the Chattanooga Theatre Centre's Biennial Festival of New Plays.

"She told a story about a distant relative whose spouse had died and the police had to go over and wait with them until the medical examiner arrived to declare the person dead," says Rex Knowles, who turned that into his winning work, "Old Ties."

He entwined that idea with Alzheimer's complications he and wife Sherry Landrum have dealt with caring for their parents along with his parents' World War II experiences.

For winning the grand prize in the CTC's Biennial Festival of New Plays, Knowles receives $1,000 and his play will be presented in full production in the CTC Circle Theatre over three weekends of performances beginning Friday, April 21.

Playwrights in Tennessee and others who lived within 100 miles of Chattanooga in surrounding states were invited to submit original plays. "Old Ties" won from among 25 submissions.

Knowles is the author of "Rosemary Leaves," "The Night Reginald Filbert Called It Quits" (2006 winner of the Festival of New Plays), and "The Nutcracker Christmas Carol" (with Landrum and Allan Ledford). He is executive director of the Professional Actor Training Program at Chattanooga State Community College.

Three runners-up were chosen and those plays will be presented as staged readings. Those playwrights received $250 each.

Knowles describes "Old Ties" as a drama with comedic moments. While waiting for the medical examiner to arrive following the death of his wife of 62 years, Hank (the husband), two cops and a distant relative discover how complex it is to love, to live and to leave.

"It really is about this man expressing this particular part of his life through the cousin and policemen. They end up becoming friends and sharing each other's lives as the man works through his grief and this big change in his life. To me, it's very touching, very emotional," says Knowles.

One week into rehearsals, the actor cast as Hank had to withdraw from the show. In true show-must-go-on spirit, Knowles stepped into the role. Landrum is directing and Angie Griffin is serving as stage manager.

The staged readings have been scheduled so that patrons may catch a 4 p.m. show, go out to dinner and return to the theater in time for a second reading at 8 p.m., says CTC spokeswoman Jan Belk. Tickets for the staged readings are $5. See the accompanying box for a description and show times of each.

Contact Susan Pierce at spierce@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6284.

Staged readings

› “Exit 136,” by Sharon Bandy; directed by Dylan Kussman
Saturday, April 22, at 4 p.m.; Saturday, April 29, at 8 p.m.

It’s 1998, and a snowstorm has stranded six mismatched characters in a run-down truck stop. A sick young man makes an unlikely friend, a trucker struggles to keep his son, and a truck-stop regular bemoans a past action for which he cannot forgive himself. Tensions rise as secrets are revealed and alliances betrayed, keeping audiences guessing until the end.

› Fiddle of Gold,” by Rachel Mrotek, directed by Dr. Lori Leigh
Saturday, April 29, at 4 p.m.; Saturday, May 6, at 8 p.m.

Jonathan thinks he has won his dance with the devil. But when his old friend comes to visit in his small town in the mountains of North Georgia, everyone’s lives and souls are at risk.

› “The White Rose,” by Sharon Bandy, directed by Stevie Ray Dallimore
Saturday, April 22, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, May 6, at 4 p.m.

Based on a true story, a group of University of Munich students who formed a resistance during World War II to speak against Adolf Hitler and National Socialism, are tried for treason after siblings and core members, Hans and Sophie Scholl, are caught on the balcony of the university atrium from where resistance leaflets were thrown. Through a series of flashback and interrogation scenes, the courageous story of “The White Rose” unfolds.

Reservations are available online or at 423-267-8534.