Vicky Saye Henderson Offers Improv Event Based on The Stone Necklace

Vicky Saye Henderson
Vicky Saye Henderson

Jasper: You’re involved with One Book, One Community’s 2016 selection, The Stone Necklace by Carla Damron, in a couple ways, right? I know you created the audio version of the book – what was that like?

VSH: Partnering with the USC Press team, Carla, and Ron Whitten at the SC State Library has been incredibly rewarding and a great joy. I feel so fortunate to have been invited to participate. This was a completely different way of exploring a narrative for me compared to simply reading a novel or preparing text for stage. It challenged me to prepare differently and stay in touch with the tempo, tone, and pulse of the story and its characters.

Jasper: Was this the first book you’ve recorded?

VSH: Yes, this was the first audio book I’ve done. In preparing for the audition taping, I asked the Richland Library staff to assist me in pulling some award-winning high quality audio books, I took them home and studied them. I noted and considered what seemed distinctive regarding the narrator’s choices for voicing the text, and employed some of those things in both my audition and ultimately our recording of the book. Luckily, those things seemed to work!

Jasper: Tell us about the process. How long did it take?

VSH: A week before we started recording, I met with Carla to talk about the book, its characters, her writing process, and more. We then began recording in mid-October.Typically, we would record for 2-3 hours a session twice a week. Ron Whitten (recording director) and I found that we made for a great team. His years of experience and knowledge got me quickly acquainted to this new medium, and our intuitive combined ear for keeping the quality consistent kept us on target. We logged over 40 hours in the recording studio. Jonathan, Carla and other key staff came by during sessions to listen in and were consulted during our process. It was a highly collaborative experience.

Jasper: Have any of your friends or family listened to your recording and, if so, what did they have to say about it?

VSH: Yes, Jim Dukes listened to some early parts of the first few chapters. What he said was interesting to me—that he could very distinctly see in his mind’s eye all the colors and textures of the story in ways that just reading a book had not afforded him in the past.

Jasper: Is it something you’d like to do again?

VSH: Absolutely! I loved doing it. I really like the team of people I’ve come to know, I grew as a performing artist, and I found and added a totally new means of being a storyteller.

Jasper: Now, can you tell us about the improv event you’ll be conducting for The Stone Necklace on Tuesday, February 11th at 7 pm at Tapp’s Arts Center?

VSH: I’ve heard it said that two ways we can create more empathy in our lives are to read more novels and take an improv class. This event combines both elements! We will be “walking through the halls” of this book and exploring its story lines, characters and settings (the book is set in Columbia, SC) via interactive improvisation techniques. It’s not about performance, but rather about becoming co-explorers of story using Carla’s existing elements as prompts. A whole new way to appreciate an author’s work.

Jasper: How can the public be involved in this and what do they need to do to prepare?

VSH: There’s nothing to bring or do to prepare for the event. Come with a curious spirit and willing heart to learn about the book, engage your creativity, see things from a new perspective, and apply your own point of view.

Jasper: How would we benefit from participating?

VSH: It will be a new and more intimate way to meet a story and its creator. People will get to know one another in the room, and hopefully learn a little about the highly versatile medium of improv as a tool for discovery and collaboration.

Jasper: Do we need to have read the book first?

VSH: No prior reading is necessary. An overview of the story will be given and excerpts from the novel will be read.

Jasper: Finally, what’s your favorite thing about (or part of) the book The Stone Necklace?

VSH: The two things I appreciate most about this book is the keen, intuitive and seamless way Carla weaves the stories of these seemingly different people into a common tapestry, and her choice to set it in Columbia, SC. I became very emotionally invested in the characters very quickly (especially one character, Joe), grew to appreciate their individual and combined roads of healing, and saw my city through a new lens.

 


 

Vicky Saye Henderson is a performer and teaching artist, whose projects include live stage, film, TV, voice-overs and cabaret. On staff at Trustus Theatre, she serves as Director of Education and Professional Development.  She is also a member of Trustus’ residential performing ensemble, appearing most recently in The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical. She is the recipient of the SC Arts Commission’s 2015 Individual Artist Fellowship in Acting and was named the 2013 Jasper Artist of the Year in Theatre. She received her improv training in Orlando, FL (KVG Studios) and is co-director of Trustus’ Improv and Sketch Comedy master track Apprentice Company program. Vicky recently provided vocal narration for USC Press’ audiobook of Carla Damron’s novel, The Stone Necklace. 

 

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION:

Come and be introduced to Carla Damron’s new novel, The Stone Necklace, in a highly active way! Trustus Theatre Ensemble member and Director of Education, Vicky Saye Henderson will use the versatile medium of improvisation to explore the novel’s narrative, its characters and setting, the author’s process in fun, unexpected and non-traditional ways using readings, music, audience interaction and more.

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More than Magic: USC’s Green Room Productions presents She Kills Monsters

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Photo by Alexandra Herstik

by: Haley Sprankle

“Some people run, some people paint, and some people play D&D.”

Green Room Productions, the completely student-run production company at the University of South Carolina, presents Qui Nguyen’s play She Kills Monsters.

The play follows Agnes Evans, a woman who lost her parents and younger sister Tilly in a car crash, as she moves out of her childhood home. While packing up, she discovers her sister’s Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) campaign book, and she takes on the journey to learn more about herself, her sister, and how to cope with loss.

“I think that the play makes a lot of statements. On the surface, it’s a celebration of ‘nerd culture’ and misfits and kids who may be a little different,” junior Brooke Smith, playing Agnes, explains. “But, the biggest statement that it makes is on how people deal with grief and what it takes to process tragedies in our own lives.”

Graduate student Ryan Stevens returns to the director’s chair with this production. His work was last seen in the USC Lab Theatre where he directed his original piece Player King, but he has also produced some intimate staged-readings of other original works since then.

The crew is full of USC seasoned regulars with Megan Branham (lighting designer), Jordan Young (sound designer), Rebecca Shrom (costume designer), Kira Neighbors (stage manager), and Grace Ann Roberts (assistant director/choreographer). They have put together a technical show with impressive and complex design elements. Also, with the USC Theatre Department’s season in full swing, Stevens was able to accrue a sizeable, talented group of students to be a part of this production.

Photo by Alexandra Herstik
Photo by Alexandra Herstik

“This cast is extremely diverse. Yet again, I’ve drawn extensively from Columbia’s improv community and brought in a few people who are relatively new to the acting game, because the script, in my mind, dictates a large amount of looseness and freedom and natural reaction from its actors,” Stevens elaborates. “These twelve actors are all giving their all to immerse themselves in the worlds of the play, both real and imaginary. This script has most of its actors playing multiple roles, or multiple versions of the same character, so it’s really a great showcase for their range, and they are absolutely rising to the occasion.”

One of the new kids on the block is junior Corey Drennon. Drennon was showcased previously this year through the Overreactors improv group, but she has not pursued theatre since high school. Adopting the role of Tilly Evans, Drennon has had to learn how to bring a deceased character to life.

“Tilly is exuberant, imaginative, and steadfast, especially when it comes to her friends. She’s funny and extremely sarcastic. Tilly has a spark in her–she definitely goes against the crowd. In a field of flowers facing the sun, she’s facing the opposite way,” Drennon highlights.

This complex character leads her sister into a world that not everyone gets to experience in their lives–the elaborate world of Dungeons and Dragons.

“I’d actually never played D&D until my freshman year. I thought that it was just a very long-winded and jargon-heavy sort of board game, with all the maps, graph paper, figurines, dice, and huge books, because that’s how it always looks on TV,” Stevens relays. “It was a really refreshing surprise when I found out the game is mostly imaginative. Sure you have like a sheet of character information, and you have dice, but it really is just a lot of world-building with friends. It’s a very communal game, all about working together to tell, and participate in, this story that no one really knows how it’ll turn out.”

Get a feel for that D&D experience February 4-7 at Benson Theatre. Tickets are $5 at the door, with limited seating available.

“I think audiences will be charmed by the fantasy of the escapism and the spectacle of this magic, Lord of the Rings-on-Adderall type of world we’re creating,” Stevens adds. “But I think once they’re charmed, they’ll find a lot in common with Agnes in her attempt to reconnect with her late sister. It’s a very human longing, the longing to have known someone better, all the more exacerbated after that person has been lost. It’s very much a play about bonding and connection, whether through a sense of capital-H Honor, through family bonds, or just plain old love.”

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CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: Fall Lines – a literary convergence

Fall Lines

Fall Lines – a literary convergence is a literary journal in its third year of publication based in Columbia, SC and presented by Jasper Magazine in partnership with the University of South Carolina Press, Muddy Ford Press, Richland Library and One Columbia for Arts and History.

With a single, annual publication, Fall Lines is distributed in lieu of Jasper Magazine’s regularly scheduled summer issue. Fall Lines will accept submissions of previously unpublished poetry, essays, short fiction, and flash fiction from February 1, 2016 through April 1, 2016. While the editors of Fall Lines hope to attract the work of writers and poets from the Carolinas and the Southeastern US, acceptance of work is not dependent upon residence.

Publication in Fall Lines will be determined by a panel of judges and accepted authors will be notified in May 2016, with a publication date in summer 2016. Accepted authors will receive two copies of the journal. Two $250 cash prizes, sponsored by the Richland Library Friends, will be awarded: The Saluda River Prize for Poetry and The Broad River Prize for Prose.

  • Each entry must be submitted as a single independent entry with the appropriate category (poetry, essay, fiction, flash fiction) typed in the email subject heading.
  • Submit poetry to submissions.poetry@jaspercolumbia.com.
  • Submit prose to submissions.prose@jaspercolumbia.com.
  • Please include with each submission a cover sheet stating the title of your work, your name, email address, and USPO address. There is no fee to enter.
  • Please limit short fiction to 2000 words or less; flash fiction to 350 – 500 words per submission; essays to 1200 words; and poetry to three pages.  Please submit no more than a total of 5 entries.

The Columbia Fall Line is a natural junction, along which the Congaree River falls and rapids form, running parallel to the east coast of the country between the resilient rocks of the Appalachians and the softer, more gentle coastal plain.

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