Saturday, January 31, 2009
Appalachian Story Teller, Playwright and film maker Gary Carden entertained a large audience at the Learning Center in Murphy, NC last night, January 30, 2009. The event was sponsored by North Carolina Writers Network West, of which Gary Carden is a member. He was introduced to the audience as a "National Treasure" by Glenda Beall, Program Coordinator. I was there, and I can tell you Gary Carden's is a one man show. His theme was "Blow the Tannery Whistle" and minute by minute he took each and every one of us back to the small mountain town of Sylva, North Carolina as it was in the 1940s.
The story "Blow the Tannery Whistle" is largely autobiographical Carden said. It is the tale of a mountain boy who entertains himself by acting out stories. His grandparents seeing him talking to himself, worry about his sanity. They think he has bad blood from his mother's side of the family. Finally the men family and the men of the town meet to see if the boy should be sent away. The boy's life is changed when it is determined that he might not be all that different from the college boys seen around town. The family decides to send him to Teacher's College down the road in Cullowhee. Those who know Gary Carden, know that he did go to college, and there he had a wonderful time acting in plays and learning how a script is written.
Carden has spent 40 years of his life promoting life and culture in Southern Appalachian Mountains. He was born here in the mountains, raised here and educated here. On August 1, 2007, Western Carolina University bestowed upon Carden the Honorary Doctorate in Letters. Chancellor John Bardo presided over the ceremony.
Through the years Gary Carden made his living as a story teller, playwright and film maker. Here in the last cold, dreary days of winter, my advice to you, especially if you missed the program in Murphy last night, is get some of his audio tapes, and DVDs
to entertain yourself and your family.
Where to get them? www.tannerywhistle.com. At the Cary Carden web site, you can see all that is available, all at reasonable prices. "Mason Jars in the Flood and Other Stories" won the 2001 Appalachian Writers Association Award. It is available. Also "Papa's Angels" , "The Raindrop Waltz" and other plays, also the film The Prince of Dark Places is on DVD. It tells the legendary story of South Carolina outlaw Lewis Redmond. Also available is the film Willa, an American Snow White tale.
Another possibility is that you might invite Gary Carden to come visit your town. He will entertain you.