Play celebrates Blowing Rock writer

Article Published: Sep. 27, 2012 | Modified: Oct. 14, 2012
Play celebrates Blowing Rock writer

Juanita Tobin
File photo

Juanita Brown Tobin, a Blowing Rock poet and writer who shared her thoughts in a weekly column in The Blowing Rocket, died in 2007.

But her words live on.

In 2004, Salisbury-based playwright and poet Janice Fuller based her original play, “Dix: A Story of the Back-Ward Women,” on Tobin’s life and poetry, inspired by her more than 20 years experience working as a nurse at Dorothea Dix Hospital.

Lee Street Theatre, in collaboration with TapRoot Ensemble, will present “Dix: A Story of the Back-Ward Women” at the Looking Glass Center’s Black Box Theatre in Salisbury Oct. 4 to 6 and at the Warehouse Performing Arts Center in Cornelius Oct. 11 to 13.

Directed by Brianna Smith, “Dix” stars Catawba graduates Mary Alice Nichols, Adam York and Diana Hagler.

Originally written and developed for the Minneapolis Fringe Festival in 2004, “Dix” explores the lives of nurses and patients at Dorothea Dix Hospital, the famous and infamous psychiatric hospital in Raleigh that first opened in 1856. It closed this year and moved the last of its patients to Central Regional Hospital in Butner last month.

“This rough and raw piece embraces the humanity of the women as each story of brokenness and pain manifests itself onstage,” Fuller said. “The latest incarnation features further developments in the story of an older nurse, based on Juanita Brown Tobin herself, and a younger nurse meeting patients who share their stories of love, loss and survival.”

The production marks the first time “Dix” has been presented in North Carolina. It’s also a first-time collaboration between Lee Street Theatre and TapRoot Ensemble, which will premier a new perspective on this text with additions and developments that arise from a focus on devised theater.

Performances in Salisbury are $10 per person and are available only at the door. Performances in Cornelius are $15 per person and are available at the door or by calling (704) 619-0429.

The play contains adult language and situations.

Juanita Brown Tobin

Juanita Tobin’s (1916-2007) books include “Ransom Street Quartet: Poems and Stories” and “License My Roving Hands.” Over the years, she wrote columns in The Blowing Rocket under a number of headings, including “AppalCART Adventures.”

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