TOP PHOTO: ‘Southbound’ is the third play that local talent Tony Branam has created for Postmark LaFollette.

By Charlotte Underwood

LAFOLLETTE, TN (WLAF) – Postmark LaFollette is launching its next theatre project titled “Southbound,” written by local musician turned playwright Tony Branam. It is the third play that Branam has created for Postmark LaFollette.

Auditions for actors and calls for behind the scenes volunteers are this weekend, Sat., Feb. 17, and Sun., Feb. 18.

Aside from being on stage there are opportunities for those who want to help with costuming, set building, props, makeup and more.

Branam, who also serves as Postmark’s board secretary, originally became involved with Postmark to participate in its theater program.

“It’s a lot of fun, a lot of work, too, but a lot of fun,” Branam said.

He taught himself the art of playwriting by reading a college textbook on script writing and adapting the formula to fit an hour and a half play time frame.

“You have your main plot, your subplot, cliff hangers, etc., and you put it all together,” Branam said.

He said he has another play in the works, a musical, inspired by and based on the old time Fiddler’s competition that used to take place in La Follette in the 1920’s.

His two previous plays include “Where I Belong” and “Northbound.” “Northbound” follows a family from Campbell County that left the area to move north to Ohio in the 1950s as so many families from here had to do for work.

“Where I Belong” was originally performed at Postmark, but Branam was recently approached by the City of Norris to re-work the play for Norris’s 75th anniversary celebration in April.

Branam wrote “Southbound” about three years ago and while it does follow the story of some of the same characters from “Northbound,” it is not a sequel.

In “Southbound,” a family that had moved to Ohio in the 1950s was returning to Campbell County on vacation.

Branam said that was something that he remembered from his own time in school in the 1970s at Wynn.

“I went to school with a lot of people who did move back from Ohio in the ’70s after their families had gone North to work in the 1950s, so it has meaning for me and that’s what the play is loosely based on,” Branam said.

“Southbound” is a comedy and has 12 characters. It’s set in 1973 and the family has headed south to Campbell County. “It could be the vacation of their dreams, or it could turn into a nightmare” depending upon certain outcomes.

The plays Branam writes, and Postmark sponsors, have historical significance to the area.

“That’s part of Postmark’s mission, to include local history and local education in everything they do. It’s always neat to go back and find out about the past and piece together these stories that may have happened even though they are fictional stories, they are inspired by real life,” Branam said.

According to Branam, he originally wrote the play to have more characters, some of them minor parts and if there is a large turnout at auditions, there is still plenty of characters that could be added back in to accommodate. The hope is for the theater program to continue to grow.

“We want folks to come out and join in the fun of our community theater; give it a try,” Branam said.

Auditions are scheduled Feb. 17 and 18 from 1 pm to 4 pm. Rehearsals will begin Feb. 22. Performance dates are set for May 3, 4, 5, 10, 11 and 12.

If interested in checking out Postmark La Follette’s theater program, visit Postmark’s website or call 423.907.2434 or email Postmarklafollette@gmail.com.

Postmark LaFollette is located at 119 S. Tennessee Avenue in LaFollette in the former post office. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 02/16/2024-6AM)