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Jonesborough Yarn Exchange

Updated on March 3, 2015
julescorriere profile image

Jules Corriere is a playwright and theater director, having written over 40 plays, one of them performing at the Kennedy Center in D.C.

Jonesborough, Tennessee's Community Performance Project

During 2010, Jonesborough residents and community members shared their stories and memories of Tennessee's oldest Town. In 2011, these stories came to life on stage in an epic performance by the same community members who shared their stories.

Now, in 2012, the Yarn Exchange continues to share their stories through various performance styles, in what has become a community strengthening project that reaches beyond the barriers of age, culture, religion, socio-economic backgrounds and other "stopping points" and differences that often separate people.

Read on to see their remarkable story.

The Jonesborough Yarn Exchange - Exchanging Our Stories For A Stronger Community

Community performance is not theater as you know it. These productions have an impact on the community that far reaches into the community after the production's close. At i's core are the stories of the people in Jonesborough. Further, these shows are performed by the very people from the community, not trained actors. These performances are real and palpable. The actors perform the stories so well, because they are theirs-- they understand who the characters are, because those characters are their grandparnets or great grandparents or neighbors. They understand the theme and issues in the play, because those themes are lived every day in that community, and have been passed down through generations.

Most of the time, actors are not cast in their own stories. Having the opportunity to literally stand in the shoes and the stories of their neighbors, they come to know one another in a profound and new way. Acceptance and understanding are cultivated. When fears are understood, when people who may never have met before come together to perform their shared stories, when the bonds between the community members are strengthened, the community grows stronger.

A True Community Project At Heart

The plays are acted by local residents of Jonesborough and Washington County. Participants do not need prior theater experience, but instead an interest in Jonesborough and desire to be involved with this community-driven project. Everyone who auditions is cast, and each cast member is given a role in which they can shine their brightest.

Jonesborough Yarn Exchange is One Piece of the "Telling Jonesborough's Stories" Program - How It Started...

A one-of- a-kind project designed to celebrate Jonesborough and its people, the Jonesborough Yarn Exchange began through a partnership between the Town of Jonesborough, Community Performance International, and the International Storytelling Center.

Yearly production Turns into Monthly Radio Program


Early in 2012, the Jonesborough Yarn Exchange decided to continue doing projects that would strengthen their community, and link their organization with other wonderful groups in Jonesborough. The idea to create a one-hour old-time radio show, using local stories, humor and music, came to life in April, with the first performance of "A Night With The Yarn Exchange".

Since then, the Jonesborough Yarn Exchange has performed every month at the International Storytelling Center. A different community group sponsors the show each month, to include the Jonesborough Farmer's Market, Music on the Square and the Jonesborough Storytelling Guild, to name a few. A different musical guest is invited each month, in addition to the house musicians. Audience participation is part of the fun as they read cue cards and sing along with the cast. Stories on different subjects, all with a Jonesborough flair, are told each month, in the different theme-related programs.

"A Night With The Yarn Exchange" is now heard the 4th Wednesday of each month on NPR station WETS 89.5 out of Johnson City, and can also be streamed on HD channel 1 at:

Partners of The Jonesborough Yarn Exchange

The Town of Jonesborough, The International Storytelling Center and Community Performance, International are the founding partners of The Jonesborough Yarn Exchange.

The Harris Fund and Crestpoint Health are sponsors of the radio show, and make the broadcast possible.

Learn more about the important community work each of these groups does by clicking here.

New Programs Coming From the Growing Yarn Exchange - As The Project Grows, More Programming is Created

Annual "Story of the Carols" Singalong production
Annual "Story of the Carols" Singalong production | Source

The Jonesborough Yarn Exchange has since created new programs, including a Christmas Sing-Along event in December, "Story of the Carols" which features stories about some of the most beloved Carols, and how they came to be. The cast then leads the singing of these carols after each story. This has the entire audience singing along (and sometimes asking for more). This has now become an annual event.

In April 2012 the Yarn Exchange inaugurated a new monthly project, "A Night With the Yarn Exchange", featuring stories, regional music, and comedy, all based around local stories. The monthly programs are performed at the International Storytelling Center, and broadcast monthly on WETS 89.5 FM locally, and streamed online on HD channel 1 at:

In October 2011. the Jonesborough Yarn Exchange performed during the world famous "National Storytelling Festival".

Photos From The Jonesborough Yarn Exchange's First Play - "I Am Home"

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Guestbook--What Do You Think About The Jonesborough Yarn Exchange

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    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 5 years ago from Ljubljana

      Lovely idea. It looks you have great fun!