E&H Friends on Center Stage

Posted 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 ?75Dr. Jill Bergeron, E&H Class of ’75 Free 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.

  • The cast of Love, Loss, and What She Wore performed at the Free Spirit Theatre in Knoxville. (Front left is Cheri Compton, E&H ’77, and back right is Dr. Carol Luther, E&H ’75).

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  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/1625-dr-eric-coley-receives-award-and-a-new-title"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,28,600,629/9359_Eric_Coley.rev.1612291212.webp 1x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,28,600,629/9359_Eric_Coley.rev.1612291212.jpg 1x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,28,600,629/9359_Eric_Coley.rev.1612291212.jpg" alt="Dr. Eric Coley, E&H Class of 2004." width="345" height="225" data-max-w="600" data-max-h="601" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/1625-dr-eric-coley-receives-award-and-a-new-title">Dr. Eric Coley Receives Award and a New Title</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Dr. Coley has received recognition for his hard work just before taking over as chair of the Physical Therapy program at the E&H School of Health Sciences. <a href="/live/news/1625-dr-eric-coley-receives-award-and-a-new-title" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/1840-dr-laura-hainsworth-making-scientific-observations"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/88,90,453,454/9841_laura_Hainsworth.rev.1620315838.webp 1x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/88,90,453,454/9841_laura_Hainsworth.rev.1620315838.jpg 1x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/88,90,453,454/9841_laura_Hainsworth.rev.1620315838.jpg" alt="Dr. Laura Hainsworth, Emory & Henry Chemistry and Environmental Studies Professor and Directo..." width="345" height="225" data-max-w="365" data-max-h="364" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/1840-dr-laura-hainsworth-making-scientific-observations">Dr. Laura Hainsworth: Making Scientific Observations “on the Farm”</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Emory & Henry’s Dr. Laura Hainsworth doesn’t agree with John Denver on one important point: life on the farm is anything but laid back. <a href="/live/news/1840-dr-laura-hainsworth-making-scientific-observations" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/1193-laken-brooks-op-ed-piece-featured-on-cnn"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/75,0,249,173/7902_Laken_Brooks.rev.1586134728.webp 1x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/75,0,249,173/7902_Laken_Brooks.rev.1586134728.jpg 1x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/75,0,249,173/7902_Laken_Brooks.rev.1586134728.jpg" alt="Laken Brooks, E&H Class of 2017" width="345" height="225" data-max-w="174" data-max-h="173" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/1193-laken-brooks-op-ed-piece-featured-on-cnn">Laken Brooks’ Op-Ed Piece Featured on CNN</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Laken reminds us to be mindful that a face mask makes communication more difficult for the hearing impaired. <a href="/live/news/1193-laken-brooks-op-ed-piece-featured-on-cnn" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>