The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC


November 9, 2011

"Alice's Restaurant"

A protest song comes to life on stage in Tarboro

PRINCEVILLE —    For over 10 years, Tarboro's own Hannah Wilson has been waiting for the perfect opportunity to collaborate with her parents (Kevin and Trish Wilson, owners of Saint Anne's Chapel) on a special theatrical production. This November, her patience will finally pay off.  

    Presenting an original stage play adopted from Arlo Guthrie's 1967 protest song, "Alice's Restaurant Massacree," Wilson  is prepared to give the community an amazing theater experience at Saint Anne's Chapel for three nights (Nov. 17-19).

    "My goal as a performer is to bring great theater to people who wouldn't otherwise see it," said Wilson. "I really admire Roberta Cashwell, a woman from Tarboro, who went out into the world, gained some experience, and now runs the Tar River Players. I love that she is giving back to Tarboro, and I hope to do the same."

    Guthrie's protest song was targeted toward the Vietnam War draft. It depicted a personal incident that happened on Thanksgiving day of 1965. 

    In the song, Guthrie and a friend visited Alice M. Brock at her de-consecrated church nearby her restaurant in Stockbridge, MA. A series of events in the song leads to Alice's immortality.  

    With permission granted by Guthrie, the song will come to life on stage 30 years after it was originally written. 

    Hannah and her mother, Trish, feel as though this debut show is extremely special.

    "Since "Alice's Restaurant" (song title) happens in a chapel, it seemed like the perfect fit," said Hannah Wilson. "When my dad, Kevin, got the permission from Arlo Guthrie, we knew it was meant to be."

    Wilson goes on to say, "Since then, we have seen the 'Occupy Wall Street' protesters fight to be heard, and Arlo Guthrie himself march past the theater that I worked in to give a concert as part of the protest. It seems like we are supposed to be doing this right now."

    "Everything that has occurred surrounding the production of "Alice's Restaurant" has seemed to be destiny," said Trish Wilson. "We are thrilled to have Hannah put her personal touch on this production, because she has grown up listening to the song by Arlo Guthrie that inspired this production. It is a dream come true to have her be able to write, act and produce a project so close to her heart with fellow actors she hand-picked. The cast is phenomenal."

    "Alice's Restaurant" will feature a troop of professional New York based actors at the Wilson's de-consecrated church in Tarboro.

    Doors will open for evening shows at 6 p.m. with the production starting at 7 p.m. The community can look forward to listening to live music and eating Thanksgiving dinner (catered by Pete's Wycked Grill in Greenville).  

    After traveling all over the world, Hannah Wilson says she realizes that there is no place like home. The town of Tarboro is where her inspiration grows. Tarboro and its residents will occupy a special place in her heart from now until forevermore.

    "I am hugely inspired by my family and by Tarboro," said Wilson. "When I went to college, and told stories about growing up in such a small town, I began to suspect that I had an upbringing that was different from the norm. As I have traveled more and more, I understand what a special place Tarboro is, and how rich the stories and characters are."

    Wilson is pleased to work with an outstanding cast who understands the quality of music back in the day.

    "The performers in "Alice's Restaurant" are all extremely talented professional actors based out of New York," said Wilson. "We all perform together at "Our Bar," (an ongoing once-a-month theater series that Wilson co-produces in a bar) and because of that, we are used to working on new material, and creating an evening of theater based on a theme, or in this case, a song."

    "These performers are special because they appreciate folk music, and the era that this song comes from," said Wilson. "They are as talented at acting as they are at music."

    Actors in the play include Amy Hattemer, Brian Sell, Joe Jung, Vaishnavi Sharma and Hannah Wilson.

    Wilson has great expectations for the opening nights. She is also curious to see "VW buses," hippies or garbage bags as mentioned in the song. In general, she wants to have a good ol' time.

    "I expect to eat some good food, hear some good music, and make some good theater," said Wilson. "I hope to catch up with Tarboro folks, and to meet new people."

    According to Wilson, the audience will be in for a treat.

    "I don't want to spoil any of the surprises, but this isn't going to be your typical night of theater," said Wilson. "Tables and chairs will be spread out in the chapel, and the action of the play will happen all around the audience. There will be music, comedy, and a chance to look at where we have come from and where we are now."

    The upcoming event will be a rare chance for the community to see New York performers without having to leave town according to Wilson.

    "I hope that people come out to Saint Anne's to do something out of the ordinary," said Wilson. "This song, and now this play will remind people that everyone has the power to create change. All you have to do is find your voice."

    Hannah currently works as an actress, writer and producer in New York. She received a MFA degree from Brandies University in Boston and a BA in Theater from Greensboro College.

    In addition to other plays, Wilson has been featured in a French Opera at Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) called "Atys." She was also in "Brooklyn Shakara," a Nigerian short film that has been picked up by VOX and is in the process of being made into a sit-com.

    Recently, Wilson closed a show at the Drilling Company (Off-Off Broadway) that was written by writer, Ken Feriggni called "Mangella." Joe Jung ( a cast member of "Alice's Restaurant") directed it.

    According to Wilson, the play received photo of the week in the "New York's Time Out Magazine" and received great reviews.

    Even though it's not "show-time" just yet, Trish Wilson is enjoying her time preparing for the show.

    "Kevin and I are having so much fun planning and executing all the details surrounding the performance," said Wilson. "It's such a natural fit. We identify with the ideals of that time, which seem to be as relevant today as they were then, when the saying, "make love, not war" was more than a slogan."

    She hopes to bring the community closer and evoke consciousness of history through the arts.  

    All proceeds from the event will go to The Guthrie Center and Tarboro Community outreach (TCO).

    The Guthrie Center's main mission is to bring individuals together for cultural, educational and spiritual exchange. TCO is the homeless shelter, soup kitchen and food pantry in the town of Tarboro.

    "It's about sharing what you have, giving back and passing it on," said Wilson. "We would like to invite our community, whether it is Raleigh, Wilson, Rocky Mount, Greenville and Tarboro to know where they can come to actually be a part of a movement and to remember an era whose time has come again."

    There will be limited seats each night (56 seats in total). Tickets are advised to be ordered early. Ticket prices for individuals are $55 each until Oct. 31 and $60 after that.

    For more information, contact Kevin and Trish Wilson at 252-641-0262 or











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