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Auditions for “Erk Russell Project” set for Aug. 19

Most people who live in Statesboro know about the legendary Erk Russell. They’ve seen the game day footage, the newspaper stories and the Internet sites. But how many people knew the man?

‘Through the process of oral history, our goal is to interpret for posterity the true legacy of Erk Russell,” said Rebecca Kennerly, an assistant professor of communication arts at Georgia Southern University and co-director of a unique 18-month project that will result in a play about the late coach.

‘He really sparked the Statesboro community’s energy and growth. We want to talk to the people who knew Erk and who were, and continue to be, significantly affected by his life.”

Kennerly and her co-director, playwright Scott Garner, introduced the idea of ‘The Erk Russell Project” to the community earlier this summer and found many people interested in participating.

They will take the project to the next step when they hold auditions at the Averitt Center for the Arts on Sunday, Aug. 19, in two sessions, from 2 p.m. until 4:30 p.m., and 5 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. The auditions are open to any member of the community, and participants are asked to stay for the entire session.

‘Because we are creating a performance that is based on oral histories gathered by participants, our audition process will reflect those skills,” said Kennerly. ‘Auditions will involve working with another person, talking about Erk, writing interview questions, practice listening, practice watching, and using vocal indicators, gestures, movements and a variety of postures. This is a unique  and fun  audition that will give a taste of the actual oral history process.”

Initial development of ‘The Erk Russell Project” was funded by a grant from the Georgia Council on the Arts. The project director will continue to apply for other grant support.

Participants have begun the process of gathering stories, and Garner has posted a blog about the project that includes some great video and encouragement for everyone  especially men ages 18-50  to participate in auditions. Garner’s blog is at http://erkplay.blogspot.com.

Between Aug. 19 and Dec. 2, the researchers/performers selected for the project will conduct oral history interviews that will be performed in a ‘staged reading” at the Averitt Center on Sunday, Dec. 2. The Dec. 2 performances will provide the basis for a fully staged production about Russell that will be performed in the fall of 2008.

‘The Erk Russell Project” and the resulting stage production are produced by the Averitt Center’s STARS community theatre volunteers in conjunction with Georgia Southern, and it has the support of the Russell family.

For questions about the project or the Aug. 19 auditions, call the Averitt Center at (912) 212-2787.

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