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Saturday September 26, 2020

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"Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play" Opens Oct. 24
October 18, 2019

If the power grid went down and society descended into a post-electric world, what would individuals remember from the last hundred years?

This semester’s production by the Walters State music and theatre department makes a good case that it would be “The Simpsons.”

“Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play” is set in the future – and it’s a dark future. The story begins shortly after a worldwide catastrophe has sent the planet into a bleak fall. To entertain each other, people gather around the fire and try to remember the “Cape Feare” episode of the long-running animated comedy. The play revisits the same setting seven years later and, in its last act, 75 years later.

“The story is the star of the play,” said TJ Kent, assistant professor of theatre and director of the play.

“Most people know enough about ‘The Simpsons’ to understand the premise, but you could go in knowing nothing and still enjoy this play. The focus is on how society values and retells stories. You see the story as memories fail, evolve and change.”
Kent said 

“Mr. Burns” is different than any play his students have put on previously. Students are required to have a bigger stage presence as the story develops. The last act is basically a play within a play.
Carson Grimes of Morristown, at different times in the play, plays Matt, Troy McClure and Mr. Burns. Likewise, Ashley Kelley of Maynardville plays Jenny and then Edna Krabappel. Thomas Batchelor of Parrottsville plays Sam, Flanders and Homer. Rebekah Frith of Morristown plays Colleen and Itchy. Matt Byrd of Rutledge plays Gibson, Willy and is in the final chorus. Taylor Sandifer of Morristown plays Quincy and Lisa. Isabella Williams plays Apu and Marge. Alexis Lane plays Scratchy and Grace Star plays Nelson and is in the chorus. 
Wes Downing is the assistant director and technical director. Matt Byrd is the music director and Macie Rogers is the choreographer. 
“Mr. Burns” is written by Anne Washburn and debuted in 2012, earning a nomination for a Drama League Award. 

The play does contain adult themes and is not recommended for children. 
Productions are planned for 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 24-26 and 2:30 p.m. on Oct. 26-27. Tickets are $12 general admission; $10 seniors and $5 students. For reservations, call 423-585-6922, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. The box office opens an hour before showtime. 

In the photo: Carson Grimes, cast as Matt, tells what he remembers about an episode of “The Simpsons” in Walters State’s fall production of “Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play,” as Thomas Batchelor, Ashley Kelley and Britney Newman are gathered around the campfire. The play follows the history of a story from the years following a global catastrophe to 75 years later.