‘Liars Bench’ will present Nov. 15 performance of ‘Birdell’

Monthly music-and-storytelling show “The Liars Bench” will alter its format to present “Birdell” at Western Carolina University’s Mountain Heritage Center auditorium Thursday, Nov. 15, at 7 p.m.

“Birdell,” a dramatic monologue by “The Liar’s Bench” troupe founder Gary Carden, will star Bobbie Curtis as defiant mountain woman Birdell Tolly, who is forced off her land by the rising waters of the Tennessee Valley Authority’s newly-created Fontana Lake.

“Although ‘Birdell’ has plenty of pathos, it’s not just a dark, unrelenting tragedy,” Carden said. “It has humor all the way through the play. Some of the things that Birdell does in her garden just might shock a Southern Baptist preacher.”

Curtis portrays Birdell Tolly’s life and her battle against the federal government with a view to her own heritage. Her grandparents were forced off their land by the construction of the Bridgewater Dam that formed Lake James. “I feel that I am really in her shoes and that I have been there,” Curtis said. She also has performed in Carden’s “The Bright Forever” and Ketti Fring’s “Look Homeward Angel.”

Because this show will be a benefit for the troupe, there will be an admission charge of $10. Tickets will be available at City Lights Bookstore in Sylva and at the door the night of the show.

Carden and Paul Iarussi will perform Southern Appalachian tales and music in addition to the performance of the monologue. Regular cast members also include Lloyd Arneach, William Ritter, The Boys From Tuckaseegee, Barbara Duncan, Karen Barnes and the show’s mascot, Bodine. “The Liars Bench” also recognizes established regional artists and performers and encourages new talent.

“‘The Liars Bench’ is a unique blend of culturally accurate mountain Americana with traditional Southern Appalachian entertainment for everyone” said Carden. “We attempt to treat Appalachian culture with integrity and authenticity, and try to be an accurate reflection of the Southern Highlanders and their ways.”

Carden, recipient of the 2008 Brown-Hudson Folklore Award and the 2012 North Carolina Award for Literature, created “The Liars Bench” in the early summer of 2010 to promote Southern Appalachian storytelling, music, poetry, drama and folk arts.

The next presentation of “The Liars Bench” show will be Thursday, Dec. 13, at 7 p.m., featuring stories and songs of “An Old-Time Appalachian Christmas.”

For more information, contact the Mountain Heritage Center at 828-227-7129.