By BAILEY BASHAM
No matter where a person has been or where a person is headed, everyone has a story. Simply put, storytelling is universal. And for many people, whether through music, film, writing or even just sharing over a cup of coffee with a friend, experiencing those stories is transformative.
That is the belief of Studio Tenn, Franklin’s premier professional theater company, and of Todd Morgan, who serves as the organization’s managing director. Morgan said he is well-acquainted with the transformative power of stories, and for him, the theater is the most powerful vehicle for telling them.
“A lot of us as performers have the transformative experience of being a part of something greater, and theater is one of the most collaborative arts for that,” said Morgan. “For me, theater has been a lifelong love. In high school, I was involved in a couple different companies outside of school, and I’ve sort of been living and breathing this since then. The arts are of such great value, and they enrich so many lives. It’s not just the theater meccas like New York and Chicago where people need the escape into someone else’s story. It’s everywhere.”
Studio Tenn exists bring artful storytelling experiences and a meaningful understanding of the artistic process to Franklin. Morgan said Studio Tenn offers that transformative escape to people of all backgrounds, performer or otherwise.
Ten years ago this month, Studio Tenn presented its inaugural show, a production of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, and Morgan said it’s because of the continued community support since then that the organization is able to celebrate this year with a five-show season and their annual fundraising event, One Night Only.
One Night Only is meant to be an evening with friends, some old and some new, and will feature performances by crowd favorites like William Hall, Jamiee Paul and Laura Matula, as well as a silent auction.
Lynne McCallister, who serves on the organization’s board and is a loyal supporter, previously lived in London, and she said during her 10 years there, she and her husband went to their fair share of plays.
“When you find something of the quality of Studio Tenn, it’s something to celebrate and invest in. Studio Tenn is of similar quality to what you see in much larger cities,” she said.
In addition to the plays, musicals and concerts, McCallister said Studio Tenn offers classes for middle, high school and college students and partners with Backlight Productions, a theater company that works to provide opportunities for education and performance to adults with special needs.
Studio Tenn also hosts the Gift of Theatre program, which provides financial support to families who otherwise would be unable to participate in Studio Tenn’s productions.
“The only way we can continue to provide programming and opportunities is with the financial support of the community. The very first play Studio Tenn did 10 years ago was Our Town, and 10 years later, my view is that Studio Tenn is still our treasure. It is a cultural powerhouse for a city this size, and it takes everybody participating in whatever way speaks to them,” she said.
For more information about Studio Tenn or about One Night Only, visit https://www.studiotenn.com/.