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Bob Jones Patriot Players win state, advance to SETC

MADISON – Patriot Players Drama Troupe at Bob Jones High School claimed first-place honors at the state-level Walter J. Trumbauer Theatre Festival at Troy University on Nov. 29 through Dec. 1.

Bob Jones one-act play, “The Bell Witch,” was judged as first place in Alabama and qualifies the actors to advance to Southeastern Theatre Conference in Knoxville, Tenn. in 2019.

“Having won our seventh state (Trumbauer) festival in eight years is astonishing. There simply aren’t words to describe what my students have accomplished,” drama teacher and Fine Arts Chair Dwayne Craft said. Drama teacher Mary Davis also trains students at Bob Jones.

Currently, Bob Jones holds the record in Alabama for the most appearances at SETC and is the only school since 1975 to win back-to-back festivals.

Based on America’s most famous haunting, “The Bell Witch” by B. Dwayne Craft, developed by Bob Jones Patriot Players and edited by Mary Davis is inspired by the story of the Bell Witch of Adams, Tenn. The Bell Witch haunted John Bell’s family in the 1800s and is reputed to have directly caused John Bell’s death of by giving him a glass of poison to drink. 

“Andrew Jackson himself stayed at the Bell family farm and later reportedly said that he would rather ‘face the whole of the British army than face the Bell witch again,'” Craft said. “Most haunting, though, is that the spirit predicted that it would return 107 years later to haunt his descendants.”

Set in 1937, the Bob Jones play depicts Adams’ townspeople “tensely awaiting the return of its greatest fear. Charles Bailey Bell returns to put an end to the curse that has haunted his family for two generations,” Craft said.

At Trumbauer, Bob Jones won “Best in Show” and “Best Set.”

Jeremy Sailors, a junior, was named to the “All-Star Cast” for his portrayal of The Preacher, “who tries his best to calm the nerves of the town of Adams. Jeremy really does act the part of a preacher with all of the fervent belief and commitment of a true Southern gospel preacher,” Craft said.

In individual events, Bob Jones students received awards in 15-plus events.

“The honor of being selected as the ‘State Representative Play’ for SETC is equivalent to winning the state championship in a sport and communicates to people from across the nation that our community supports the arts,” Craft said. “(This support) is one more selling point for our community and demonstrates the opportunities community members and businesses create for youth in our area.”

Twenty schools will convene on SETC’s 66th annual convention on Feb 28 through March 1 in Knoxville, Tenn. Approximately 5,000 participants attend each year.

Founded in 1949, SETC is the largest and most active regional theatre organization in the United States. The not-for-profit membership association has become the premier organization serving a wide constituency of people, businesses and academic institutions, all connected by theatre.

Bob Jones will present a benefit showing of “The Bell Witch” in late February.

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