King University to host world premiere of “Good King Wenceslas”

Aug 19, 2022 | King University

Community auditions set for Aug. 23-24

BRISTOL, Tenn., Aug. 19, 2022 — Christmas in August? No, just auditions for it.

King University will be holding open auditions for the world premiere of the new play, “Good King Wenceslas,” co-written by Library of Congress Living Legend Katherine Paterson, ’54, and award-winning author Stephanie Tolan.

Paterson, a King alumna, is known for many beloved works, including “Bridge to Terabithia,” “Jacob I Have Loved,” “The Master Puppeteer,” and “The Same Stuff as Stars.” Tolan is a Christopher Award winner for her book, “Listen!” and a Newbery Honoree for “Surviving the Applewhites.”

The new comedy focuses on a struggling theater that finds that their one money-making play of the year, Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol,” is being produced by the rival theater across town, which has not only pre-empted their opening show but also stolen most of their cast and backstage staff.

“We finally decided about a year or so ago that we were ready to take it to people,” Paterson said of the play. “I was looking at the King website, which I do from time to time, and realized there’s a full drama department at King. I thought ‘oh, how wonderful it would be if our play debuted at King!’ Because I’m just so happy about the school right now and the direction it’s taking.”

The play is a work filled with family conflict, romance, and a genuine Christmas miracle – and one that offers the opportunity for regional actors to participate alongside students and professors from King’s Department of Theatre.

“Not only is it an honor for King to be able to premiere this play, it’s also a great way to connect with our wider arts community,” said Alaska Vance, chair of the Department of Theatre at King University. “We are always looking for ways that regional actors can become part of the King family, and being able to share this new original work from two of the nation’s most revered children’s authors is a great way to foster new connections and share the joy that’s generated from this kind of collaboration.”

Open auditions for “Good King Wenceslas” will be held at King’s Fine Arts Building, located on the main campus at 1350 King College Road in Bristol, Tennessee, at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 23, and Wednesday, Aug. 24. Actors of all ages are invited to attend.

“We’re very excited to welcome our students back to campus next week, and also to open our doors to those wanting to join in presenting this play,” Vance said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for our students and community to share in and learn from the work of these two storytelling masters.”

Following actor selection, a staged reading will take place at the end of September. Paterson and Tolan will attend to offer feedback to the director and actors. The work will then premiere at The Paramount Center for the Arts in Bristol, Tennessee, from December 1-3.

“We’re just looking forward with great pleasure to view the first reading, and that’ll give us the chance of making further changes,” Paterson said. “We always find that the director and the cast in the rehearsed reading works really well. Things pop out that we weren’t aware of, even though we each have a good bit of experience. You need to hear the voices.”

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