E&H Friends on Center Stage

by Monica Hoel
Three of the stars in a recent Knoxville production of Love, Loss and What I Wore had more than a love of theatre in common: they also had a certain tiny college in Virginia as a mutual bond.

Dr. Jill Stapleton Bergeron (’75), Dr. Carol Luther (’75) and Cheri Compton (’77) were all Emory & Henry students together, and they recently found themselves together doing what they love: acting.

Carol is retired from a career as an English professor, teaching at Pellissippi State and Hiwassee College. Cheri is a realtor in Knoxville. And Jill is a communications professor at the University of Tennessee, but she is also the founder of the theatre where the three performed.

Dr. Jill Bergeron, E&H Class of '75 Dr. Jill Bergeron, E&H Class of ’75Free Spirit Theatre, located in Knoxville, is just the most recent adventure in theatre for Jill. The Gate City native made a name for herself locally in The Trail of the Lonesome Pine, the famous outdoor drama in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, playing the lead (June Tolliver) and later returning as artistic director.

Carol says this is probably the 15th production she and Jill have been in together since their college days. Even though headed off in slightly different directions after college (Carol earned graduate degrees at Emory University and Vanderbilt; Jill earned her advanced degrees at LSU), the two have stayed in touch. And they’ve bonded often over their love of the theatre.

All three women have fond memories of their E&H academic experiences. Cheri and Carol were both English majors, and Jill majored in music. They recall special professors who provided incredible opportunities for them to experience great art and music while students. Jill, for instance, speaks fondly of Concert Choir and of doing theatre performances under the direction of Alan Pickrell. “My fondest memory is traveling to New York City with the Sikorskis to see opera at The Met.”

Carol recalls “great memories on the E&H stage doing Death of a Salesman and The Importance of Being Earnest. Alan Pickrell was a mentor and a friend, and I also very much enjoyed being in the Highlands Chamber Orchestra with the Sikorskis.

Emory & Henry is preparing to honor some of the very professors that so inspired these women, and so many others, to experience and create great art. The Legends of the Arts event on April 8 will honor the people who established the arts program at Emory & Henry: Alan Pickrell, Alys and Ludwig Sikorski, Chick Davis, Marius Blesi, and George Chavatel. The event is aiming to highlight what these luminaries did to spark so many lights in the artistic realm.

Carol says she is thrilled to see the College honor these powerful influencers. “I’m so pleased that Emory & Henry is honoring the rich legacy of the arts and the dynamic and enthusiastic professors who inspired so many students.”

Carol and Cheri and Jill are fine examples of how developing an understanding and appreciation of the arts as a student can enhance a lifetime of artistic pursuit and joy.

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  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/2283-eamph-mass-comm-student-story-colton-williams-gets"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,927,1167/11065_IMG-0721.rev.1648510170.JPG 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,927,1167/11065_IMG-0721.rev.1648510170.JPG 2x"/> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,927,1167/11065_IMG-0721.rev.1648510170.JPG 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,927,1167/11065_IMG-0721.rev.1648510170.JPG 2x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,927,1167/11065_IMG-0721.rev.1648510170.JPG 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,927,1167/11065_IMG-0721.rev.1648510170.JPG 2x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,927,1167/11065_IMG-0721.rev.1648510170.JPG" alt="Jenny Poston Bishop E&H Class of 1993" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,927,1167/11065_IMG-0721.rev.1648510170.JPG 2x" data-max-w="927" data-max-h="1167" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/2283-eamph-mass-comm-student-story-colton-williams-gets">E&H Mass Comm Student Story: Colton Williams gets the scoop on Jenny Poston Bishop’s luck</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"><em>This is part of a series of stories by members of the 2022 E&H Mass Comm 302 Class. This story is by E&H Sophomore, Colton Williams.</em><br/><br/>Even though 1993 graduate Jenny Poston Bishop has won a ridiculously wide array of prizes, she says that there is more to it than just plain luck. <a href="/live/news/2283-eamph-mass-comm-student-story-colton-williams-gets" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/53-the-other-side-of-the-striped-shirt"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,499,543/565_bronie.rev.1505403379.webp 1x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,499,543/565_bronie.rev.1505403379.jpg 1x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,499,543/565_bronie.rev.1505403379.jpg" alt="Bronie Reynolds (E&H '84) poses with Mike Young (E&H '86)" width="345" height="225" data-max-w="499" data-max-h="543" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/53-the-other-side-of-the-striped-shirt">The Other Side of the Striped Shirt</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Bronie Reynolds (’84) is one of the people who get to pick the country’s best referees. <a href="/live/news/53-the-other-side-of-the-striped-shirt" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/1119-mindy-buchanan-king-receives-outstanding-graduate"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/506,312,802,608/7332_mindy.rev.1578686155.png 1x"/> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/506,312,802,608/7332_mindy.rev.1578686155.png 1x"/> <source type="image/png" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/506,312,802,608/7332_mindy.rev.1578686155.png 1x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/506,312,802,608/7332_mindy.rev.1578686155.png" alt="Mindy Buchanan-King (E&H '01) and husband John King." width="345" height="225" data-max-w="296" data-max-h="296" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/1119-mindy-buchanan-king-receives-outstanding-graduate">Mindy Buchanan-King Receives Outstanding Graduate Student Award</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Mindy finished her M.A. in English in December, 2019. <a href="/live/news/1119-mindy-buchanan-king-receives-outstanding-graduate" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>