MC students and instructor take "The Sniper's Nest" to NYC for staged reading

Dec. 12, 2012
Contact: Chloe Kennedy, News and New Media Writer
865.981.8209; chloe.kennedy@maryvillecollege.edu

Four Maryville College students will travel to New York City this week to perform a staged reading of Lisa Soland’s “The Sniper’s Nest” at the Dramatists Guild of America on Dec. 14.

The play premiered at the Clayton Center for the Arts Nov. 29 through Dec. 2.

“They will introduce their work to New York City by reading the play there,” said Soland, a playwright and adjunct instructor of theatre at Maryville College.

The play follows Lee Harvey Oswald, the sniper who allegedly assassinated John F. Kennedy in November of 1963. Several government organizations, including the Dallas Police Department, FBI and the House Select Committee on Assassinations, concluded that Oswald acted alone. However, the mysterious events surrounding one of history’s most compelling moments have left many wondering whether or not the American public will ever know the whole truth.

Soland’s play approaches the assassination with new information about Oswald. Inspired by Judyth Vary Baker’s book Me and Lee: How I Came to Know, Love and Lose Lee Harvey Oswald, Soland incorporated the character of Baker into her play as Oswald’s love interest. Baker attended the premiere of the play at the Clayton Center earlier this month.

Soland is the director of the production. Walker Harrison ‘13 of Loudon, Tenn., stars as Oswald. A senior theatre major, Harrison based his senior thesis project on acting in the play.

The role of Baker is played by junior theatre major Caitlin Campbell ‘14 of Maryville, Tenn. Junior Rachel Jarnagin ‘14 of Knoxville, Tenn., is the assistant director and sophomore Daniel Noles ’15 of Knoxville, Tenn., is the stage manager.

The four students, along with Soland, will spend four days in New York. Soland and the students launched a fundraiser through kickstarter.com and raised $5,000 to pay for the trip.

To help the students establish contacts in both technical theatre and acting while in New York, Soland set up appointments with successful theatre practitioners in the area, including theatre producer Rachel Reiner, theatre critic and publisher Larry Harbison, and Ed Sandler, who is the director of membership services at the Broadway League, Inc.

“Most of the appointments that I have set up for them are with people who work nationally - some high level playwrights, theatre producers, national set designers and actors,” Soland said. “This trip to New York will show the importance of building a bridge to the real world for our students.”

Jarnagin said she is looking forward to meeting theatre professionals during her visit.

“It's one thing to read about people working in the profession, but it's something totally different having someone tell you face-to-face what their everyday lives are like,” Jarnagin said. “They are the only people that can really give me an honest answer about the profession I want to go into.”

The group will also see three shows, including Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf?”

“They’ll get to pick out one show to see on their own,” Soland said. “Afterwards, we’ll meet for dinner to discuss each show everyone saw.”

Dr. Heather McMahon, associate professor of theatre at Maryville College, said that traveling to New York would provide more than one opportunity for the students.

“The students going to New York will be able to meet lots of theatre professionals, including playwrights, publishers, stage managers and actors. They will find out how those artists got where they are,” McMahon said. “They will be able to make connections and start thinking about their own lives after college.”

Maryville College junior Mary Moates ‘14 contributed to this story.


Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the fall 2013 semester is 1,168.