SAFTA To Host Script-Writing Workshop with Harrison Young



Sundress Academy for the Arts is excited to present  the “Words Aren’t Everything,” workshop, which will be directed by playwright Harrison Young! This workshop will be held from 1PM-3PM on Sunday, March 15th at Sundress Academy for the Arts’s Firefly Farms (195 Tobby Hollow Lane, Knoxville, TN).

Words are great, but not when they get in the way! This wonderful workshop is designed to teach participants how to utilize improvisation-techniques to isolate how structure and relationships allow them to better focus on their stories. Participants are encouraged to bring up to four pages of their latest material to review with the class. Each participant will work on their personal piece with the guidance and instruction of playwright Harrison Young.

Harrison Young is a Theatre graduate from the University of Tennessee. His produced writing includes Online Fighting (Featured by the Brick Theater, Peoples Improv Theater, Tennessee Stage Company, Wild Thyme Players, and Pandora’s Dream Productions), A Cocaine Comedy (Featured by the People’s Improv Theater and Tennessee Stage Company), and the Secret Disclosures series (Featured by the Treehouse Theater). His performing credits include world premieres like Michael’s Story (Performed with the Treehouse Theater), The Hungry Heart (Performed with the Carpetbag Theatre), and Hoppy’s Trunk (Performed with the Tennessee Stage Company). Young lives in New York City, where he is a house team member of the improv group Vice Cream.

Attendance at this workshop is limited, so secure your chance to work with a published playwright by reserving your spot today! You can do so at our website, HERE!

SAFTA Hosts Table Reading of Widows of Whitechaple by Amy Sayre Baptista


The Sundress Academy for the Arts will host a table reading of Widows of Whitechaple, an original play by Amy Sayre Baptista, which tells the infamous story of the Jack the Ripper murders from the perspective of his victims.

The reading will be casual, and attendees are invited to stay after for a mixer and meet and greet with the readers. Light refreshments will be provided, but guests are encouraged to bring snacks and drinks to share.

The play features six characters: one is Jack the Ripper himself and the rest the ghosts of five of his victims. Please contact Adam Crandall at if you are interested in reading for one of the characters.

Character List

PERCIVAL PENNYROYAL: 53, male, “JACK THE RIPPER” aficionado and tour guide, middle class English accent.
POLLY NICHOLS: 43,first ghost, cockney accent.
ANNIE CHAPMAN: 47, second ghost, suffered from consumption in life, cockney accent.
ELIZABETH STRIDE: 45, third ghost, Swedish inflected English.
CATHERINE EDDOWES:46, fourth ghost, cockney accent.
MARY JANE KELLY: 25, fifth ghost, Irish accent.

The event will take place at the Sundress Academy for the Arts’ home at Firefly Farms, located at 195 Tobby Hollow Ln, Knoxville TN 37830. The reading will be held on Saturday, November 15th from 7PM to 10PM.

OUTSpoken Director, Adam Crandall, Reflects on This Year’s Performance

Two weeks after a breathtaking premiere, Adam Crandall, SAFTA’s Performing Arts Assistant, reflects on his experience organizing and producing OutSpoken, his first original production for SAFTA in which members and allies of Knoxville’s LGBTQ community combined to share their unique stories of love, loss, and life. 


It’s been about two weeks since SAFTA’s performance of OUTSpoken, and it has taken this long for me to truly grasp what we accomplished through this program. As director, designer, actor, and organizer of this production, I was so absorbed with the technicalities of all the pieces coming together that I never really had the chance to reflect on the completed puzzle.

Before I directed OUTSpoken, I had previously learned a little about the directing process through an All Campus Theatre’s production of Almost, Maine. However, I quickly realized that directing an already established play is very different than building a production from the ground up. With OutSpoken we were constantly adding and changing different scenes as the writers and actors worked on translating written word into performance pieces. It became a completely organic process—one in which I had to sometimes just step back and let develop on its own.

outspoken rehearsal

As a member of the Knoxville queer community, June was a very special (and busy) month for me. I performed with the Knoxville Gay Men’s Chorus for the first time at a crowded Bijou Theatre in front of an amazing and positive audience. I then had the opportunity to march in my first Knoxville gay pride parade with my SAFTA family and enjoyed the largest Pridefest the city has ever seen.

outspoken parade

After all this celebration, it was then time to share OUTSpoken with the rest of the community. Leading up to the performance on June 28th, I had no idea what to expect. Would all the pieces come together? Would our planned blocking work out in the actual venue? Would anyone even show up to watch us crash and burn?

Luckily, plenty of people showed up and they didn’t have to watch us crash and burn. The amazing performers and crew created a very intimate experience for the audience that I have never witnessed before. That night, the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church became a safe place where Knoxville’s LGBTQ community could come together to share their experiences of love, loss, and life. Many times during the evening as I sat on stage as a performer, I forgot I was acting and became lost in the stories being shared—some of which I had never heard until that night.

outspoken performance

Throughout my internship with SAFTA—which started way back in January—OUTSpoken has taken many different shapes. Although the end product looked very different than many of our initial ideas, the end goal was always the same: to share the voices of Southern LGBTQ people with the rest of the community. We accomplished our goal.



Adam Crandall is a graduate of the University of Tennessee’s Theatre program, where he was involved with both Clarence Brown Theatre productions as well as student productions with All Campus Theatre, including his directorial debut Almost, Maine. He serves as the Director of Theatrical Arts at SAFTA.


SAFTA Looking for Performers and Accepting Submissions of Sonnets & Shakespeare-influenced Writing for Event


Sundress Academy for the Arts (SAFTA) runs a series of weekend workshops centered on writing, theater, filmmaking, and visual art. We are starting off April with ShakesQUEER: Shaking Up the Bard for our First Friday event on April 4th from 6-9PM at The Jack Cellar in downtown Knoxville. We will be showcasing Rob Simpson’s post-apocalyptic film adaptation of Macbeth. 

Following the film, there will be a live gender-bending performance of famous Shakespearean monologues, sonnets, and more! If you would like to participate as a performer for the event contact us at

You may also submit your own writing for the event. Submissions of original sonnets and/or Shakespeare-inspired poetry, prose or monologues for performance will be accepted by at until March 31st. Winning pieces will be performed at the event!

SAFTA Announces OUTSpoken A Program for LGBTQ Writers, Artists, Filmmakers, & Performers


Knoxville, TN — OUTSpoken is a new program from the Sundress Academy for the Arts (SAFTA). The goal of this program is to create a platform for the LGBTQ community in Knoxville and surrounding areas to record and perform the experiences of sex- and gender-diverse individuals in the South.

OUTSpoken will begin with a series of writing workshops, where community members will develop their experiences into poems, monologues, narratives, or other literary forms. These pieces will then be revised and eventually performed in a staged reading. Artists from all over can also submit poetry or prose submissions, as well as video submissions of a monologue or film, online.

The workshops, which will run monthly from February through April, will be held at the organization’s headquarters, Firefly Farms, in Knoxville. These workshops will culminate in a staged reading in June 2014, showcasing the works of a wide range of individuals, including those whose experiences demonstrate intersectional issues. Participants will have the option of working with actors to bring their writing to life or performing their writing themselves.

As LGBTQ issues gain greater visibility, it is crucial that we explore the complexities of sex and gender diversity respectfully. In order to create a meaningful dialogue, we must acknowledge and listen to the stories, experiences, grievances, arguments, and counterarguments of all sex- and gender-diverse persons. It is our sincerest hope that this project will illuminate the struggles of Southern LGBTQ persons and celebrate sex and gender diversity in East Tennessee and beyond.

For more information on how to participate or to sponsor an artists, visit: