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National playwright pens story of local hero in new one-man play

April 20 will mark the opening night of another world premiere by national playwright Lisa Soland. This time she also sits in the director’s chair, directing local actor Greg Helton in her new one-man play, SERGEANT YORK: The PLAY.

sgt york play
The actor playing York, is at very top left, Greg Helton wearing suit and tie. Then Betsy Ross York (daughter of Alvin York) is to the right laughing with glasses on, then the man with the white hair next to her is Andrew Jackson York (Alvin's son). The lady in the white sweater is national playwright Lisa Soland. Image courtesy of Lisa Soland

Sergeant York: The Play depicts the life and times of Pall Mall, Tennessee resident, Alvin C. York, also known as Sergeant York, the most decorated Army soldiers of WWI. York received the Medal of Honor for killing 28 German soldiers and singlehandedly capturing 132 others in the battle of the Argonne forest, France. Gary Cooper won an Academy Award for best actor portraying York in the beloved 1941 film, Sergeant York. Ms. Soland’s live stage version will also dramatize what York accomplished in his community following the war. He built roads into Pall Mall and constructed the Alvin C. York Institute, which forever changed the lives of the people of The Valley of the Three Forks of the Wolf.

Ms. Soland presently teaches playwriting at Maryville College where her drama The Sniper’s Nest premiered, as well as her hit comedy Waiting, both also directed by the playwright. She moved to Eastern Tennessee nine years ago from Hollywood, where she had directed and produced over 80 shows, 55 of which were original.

Some of you may also remember Ms. Soland’s two play collections that premiered at Pellissippi’s Clayton Performing Arts Center – Meet Cute and The Ladder Plays. Three one-act plays from those collections received international publication by Applause Books as part of The Best American Short Plays anthologies that have, for 70+ years, graced bookshelves of theatre lovers worldwide. The volumes added to more than 50 publications to bear Ms. Soland’s name.

“I started out as an actress and my most memorable experience was working with director Charles Nelson Reilly and the Broadway playwright William Luce, on one of Luce’s world premiere plays, produced at the Burt Reynolds Jupiter Theatre,” recalls Ms. Soland. “There’s just nothing else like it - having both director and playwright present during the creative process, and getting to watch the play come to life right before your very eyes. And, as an actor, you get to play a significant role in that process.”

Ms. Soland acted opposite Burt Reynolds and Charles Durning in the hit CBS-TV comedy series Evening Shade and she starred in the ABC-TV mini-series War and Remembrance. She has also played alongside Richard Hatch, Helen Reddy, Alice Ghostley, Mary Wickes, Patrick Wayne and other recognizable names. Her plays Waiting, Cabo San Lucas, Truth Be Told and The Name Game, along with the anthology The Man in the Gray Suit & Other Short Plays, are published by Samuel French Inc. Additionally, Ms. Soland’s work can also be found in “best of” anthologies published by French, Smith & Kraus, Applause Books, and Dramatic Publishing.

Ms. Soland received a Tennessee Arts Commission Grant for her work on SERGEANT YORK: The PLAY and has received full support from York’s descendants making themselves available for interviews. The cast and crew travelled to Pall Mall this past February 17, to present the finished script to the York family, after which they gave a resounding “Thumbs up!” They plan to attend the play in Knoxville.

SERGEANT YORK: The PLAY opens at CedarBrook Outreach, to launch a new facility on the campus of West Park Church, 8833 Middlebrook Pike, April 20 and April 21 at 7:30 pm. The play will then run Thursday through Saturday nights at 7:30 pm, as well as Saturday afternoons at 2 pm through Memorial Day, May 28, 2018. (SERGEANT YORK: The PLAY will also be produced alongside Sergeant York Patriotic Foundation’s events commemorating the 100th Anniversary of WWI in Pall Mall, Tennessee, and then tour national-wide.)

Published March 9, 2018

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