asheville theater

courtesy of Janet Oliver


From her earliest memories, Janet Oliver was different than every other child she knew in Batesville, Ark. Her father was a white civil rights lawyer, her mother black, and the adults around her—particularly the women in her matriarchal family—pushed her to greatness.

“The women around me said you will get a great education, you will leave Arkansas and you will have a life,” she said. “I was self-directed, I was opinionated, I was articulated and I was obedient, and I think they liked that factor far more.”

Matt Peiken | BPR News

Willie Repoley named his company the Immediate Theatre Project, and watching Repoley in rehearsal, the name is clearly appropriate. Sets are minimal and casts are small -- and with his new original show, called “Burden,” -- the cast begins and ends with Repoley.

Courtesy of Brenda Lilly

Brenda Lilly went to college to become an actress and moved to Hollywood with her dreams set on sitcoms. She eventually found her way in television as a writer — no easy feat in a town and industry built on patriarchy — and in the early 2000s she co-created the family television drama “State of Grace.”

So why did Lilly, a fifth-generation Asheville native, move back home to the mountains?

Matt Peiken | BPR News

An estimated 3.5 million Americans experience homelessness in a given year. And while downtown Asheville is the public face of our region’s homelessness, there’s an artistic effort at Blue Ridge Community College, in Hendersonville, to spotlight rural homelessness.

Matt Peiken | BPR News

In a way, Honor Moor has Donald Trump to thank for becoming a playwright.

“You asked me why I wanted to write a play. I think it’s more I had to write this play,” Moor said. “All the news was so compelling that I felt I wanted to get it down and I wanted to get it out. For me, probably, I felt like many people, hey, it was a way to digest all of it.”

Isaac Harrel

There are t-shirts and bumper stickers, and no doubt city politicians have run on the campaign slogan -- Keep Asheville Weird.

“Asheville walks that fine line of being proud to be weird, but some people are also like ‘But I don’t want weird,’ you know?” said Jocelyn Reese, talking about the city’s annual bow to unabashed weirdness called the Asheville Fringe Arts Festival. Reese and her partner Jim Julien are co-directors.

In John Hall’s classroom at ArtSpace Charter School, in Swannanoa, there’s an equation stamped in dark capital letters high up one green wall: Vision + perseverance = impact.

Hall teaches social studies, not math, so perhaps that’s why he’s found this equation elusive in his own life. He’s pursued some things and persevered in others. They just haven’t always aligned.

By many measures, including his own, David Hopes is a successful poet and playwright. He’s certainly an influential one, at least to those who have studied with him over the years at UNC-Asheville.

But by other measures, including his own, Hopes hasn’t achieved the notoriety one might expect of someone with so many works published and produced.

In “Rapture, Blister, Burn” at NC Stage, Rebecca Morris stars as a strong, independent woman quick to stand her ground. In many respects, she’s the woman Morris wishes to be.

“So in the rehearsal process, there was a lot of drawing that out (of me),” Morris said. “Your personal power or potency, standing on my own two feet and speaking my mind, whether I think people are going to agree with me or not, is very difficult for me to do.”

Different Strokes is an Asheville theater company with a mission to "change the world one play at a time." Still, Stephanie Hickling-Beckman, the founding director of Different Strokes, couldn't have known the company's production of "Best of Enemies" would come on the vapors of the racially charged events of Charlottesville, Virginia.

NC Stage Company presents Souvenir: A Fantasia on theLife of Florence Foster Jenkins, opening Wednesday, March 15th and running through April 2nd. Part of this week's Asheville Amadeus Festival, the play looks at the life of Florence Foster Jenkins, an eccentric socialite who lives under the delusion that she is an enchanting coloratura soprano when she is actually incapable of holding pitch.