Cheever play debuts this week in Sautee

Local author Emory Jones has teamed up with the Sautee Nacoochee Cultural Center (SNCC) to put on a 75- minute, one-act play called Cheever.

The first showing of Cheever will be Thursday, Aug. 2 at 7:30 p.m.. The play is about Cheever Meaders, who was a White County resident and the last local professional potter during the time that pottery was being put out of business in White County by glass work and aluminum cans.

The play centers around the stories of Meaders and another local figure, Dr. Burrolson. While the two men never actually met in real life, the stories in the play are based on true occurrences.

“Dr. Burrolson said ‘One of the biggest regrets I have in my life is that I never met Cheever,’” explained Jones. “So I said, ‘Well I can fix that.’ And so I wrote the play.”

This is the second play that Jones has written, and it will also be his second play performed here in White County. The first play he wrote was The Valley Where They Danced, which sold out before opening night. Cheever is also expected to sell out before its debut. The director of The Valley Where They Danced, Bill Gabelhausen, will play Cheever in the production. Although Gabelhausen is not a Southern native, both Jones and the director of the play, Kathy Blandin, have spoken very highly of his acting ability.

Blandin acted in The Valley Where They Danced, although her background is in directing. She wants to focus on how Meaders must have felt as his profession became outdated. “He made practical pottery,” Blandin said. “He had to watch his profession die.”

Pottery for practical use had been a staple of White County, but as time went on, new technologies began to render it obsolete. Instead of pottery, people began using tin cans and glass bowls. Pottery was only purchased for decorative purposes, something Cheever was not particularly fond of. “Cheever called decorative pottery ‘useless’ pottery,” said Jones. “He just feels like people don’t need what he makes anymore.”

The Pottery Museum opened a Cheever exhibit on July 13, two weeks before the play’s opening night. A book, written by Jones, was also released when the exhibit opened. The play only includes a very small portion of the stories that Jones wrote about the two men. The book includes all of the stories that were cut from the play.

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