Posted by: northeastnation | February 11, 2015

Theatre faculty selected to judge regional competition

An award-winning Northeast State alumnus and Theatre faculty member was invited to join a judging panel at a regional theatrical design competition in January.

Instructor Brad McKenzie was invited by the U.S. Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) to adjudicate technical competitors at the institute’s Southwest Regional Conference held at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.

The conference included a competition for design and technical artists from the region’s member institutions. Judges reviewed technical categories including lighting and sound design as well as costuming and make-up done by competitors.

“This was my first foray into adjudicating a competition,” said McKenzie. “It was certainly a great opportunity to network with theatre professionals and talk to them about our program and Northeast State.”

McKenzie served as one of six adjudicators for the competition. His own work has won several awards in the annual Region IV Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. His reputation for excellence in technical design and teaching the process of modeling design concepts piqued the interest of conference organizers.

McKenzie described modeling as sketching design ideas on paper with pencil to better understand light and setting for a scene. A three-dimensional model drawing demonstrates how light and shadow should frame a production.

“It is not used often, but I like it because you get a better sense of how light renders and moves,” he said.

Judges for USITT critique a nominee’s process from initial idea to realization on the stage. McKenzie also taught a workshop about lighting design to a class of 25 students and theatre professionals. As with his Northeast State students, McKenzie said he emphasized the art of technical theatre trade as a marketable skill for the industry.

“When you are a designer, you have experience operating a piece of theatre equipment or possess a skill set that people need in live performances,” said McKenzie. “Those are very specialized skills that are needed in performance areas. The job market for technical theatre professionals is way better than that for performance.”

McKenzie was among the College’s first theatre majors when the program was established. He went on to earn his bachelor’s degree at East Tennessee State University and his master’s degree from the University of Southern Mississippi. McKenzie was named a full-time instructor at Northeast State last year. He worked as technical director and lighting designer for several Northeast State Theatre productions before becoming a full-time faculty member last year. He has also written original stage adaptations for I,Ebenezer, and The Odyssey Abridged: A Puppet Journey of Epic Proportions both performed by Northeast State Theatre.

McKenzie noted that the top-tier technical effects for theatre were becoming more available as equipment became more refined and affordable. He added that Northeast State’s decision to build a top quality venue in the Wellmont Regional Center for the Performing Arts raised the bar for students’ training and live performance innovation by the department.

“At Northeast State, we are fortunate to have fantastic technical capabilities and tremendous facilities available with the RCPA Theatre to train students, showcase their work, and stage shows with high production value,” said McKenzie. “I want to share our students’ abilities and skills with as many people in the theatre industry as possible.”

Posted by: northeastnation | February 10, 2015

Northeast State hosts Financial Literacy Day Feb. 18

Freaky financial times require smart budgeting, saving, and avoiding debt to stay solvent. Northeast State students, faculty and staff will learn methods to secure a financial future at Financial Literacy Day scheduled for Feb. 18 at the College’s Blountville campus, 2425 Highway 75, adjacent to Tri-Cities Regional Airport.

Financial Literacy Day Poster finalFinancial institution representatives will be available from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on the 1st floor Student Services Building in the upper Courtyard area and individual presentations will be in the Auditorium (A202). The community is invited to attend. No appointment is necessary. There is no charge to attend the event.

Participating institutions and their presentation times are scheduled as:

9:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. Appalachian Community Federal Credit Union, “Financial Cents – College & Youth-Based Program”
9:45 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. TriSummit Investment Services, “The Psychology of Spending”
10:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Mortgage Investors Group, “Financial Peace University”
11:15 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. Citizens Bank, “Credit – The Good and The Bad”
12 noon – 12:30 p.m. Eastman Credit Union, Money Management Basics

Event is hosted by Northeast State’s TRiO Student Support Services and Student Life Office. For more information about Financial Literacy Day, contact TRiO Student Support Services at 423.354.2540.

Posted by: northeastnation | February 2, 2015

Ebenezer, Lion shows earn award nominations

The land of Narnia and the streets of jolly old England came alive on stage last year as Northeast State Theatre continued staging classic productions with creative new twists.

Once again the work of Northeast State Theatre students was recognized by proctors from Region IV of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF). The student nominees have been invited to submit their work to the Festival’s Region IV competition held Feb. 3-8 at Darton State College in Albany, Ga. The adjudicated competition recognizes the best theatre work of two- and four-year colleges across the Southeast.

“Our students have been nominated for and won KCACTF awards every year we’ve entered as participants,” said Brad McKenzie, instructor and technical director of Northeast State Theatre. “So we are doing something right here.”

A scene from I, Ebenezer with Marlene (Heather Christian, left) Marley-bot (Austin Sparks, center) and Ebenezer (Richard Jackson). (Photo by David Grace)

A scene from I, Ebenezer with Marlene (Heather Christian, left) Marley-bot (Austin Sparks, center) and Ebenezer (Richard Jackson). (Photo by David Grace)

Marty France received a nomination for Costume Design with his lyrical and dreamlike work on The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Dustin Lawson earned a nomination for Make-up Design in Lion and Ebenezer. Eli Kistner received a nomination for his work as Technical Director for Lion. Ashley Guy picked up the Costume Design nomination for the multiple period-piece design of Ebenezer. The managing of Narnia was pulled off by Hannah Duncan who picked up her third KCACTF nomination for her Stage Management work of Lion.

“Our students are so dedicated. Every semester they rise to the challenge,” said Elizabeth M. Sloan, professor and director of Northeast State Theatre. “It is rewarding and inspiring to work with so many incredible students.”

Lucy (Lorrie Anderson) and Mr. Tumnus (Tyler Bishop) in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. (Photo by David Grace)

Lucy (Lorrie Anderson) and Mr. Tumnus (Tyler Bishop) in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. (Photo by David Grace)

Lorrie Anderson earned an Irene Ryan acting nomination for her role as the curious and courageous Lucy in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Austin Sparks received an Irene Ryan Acting nomination for his role of young Edmund in Lion. He nabbed a second Irene Ryan Acting nod for his work as Marley-bot, Scrooge’s mechanical creation in Ebenezer. Richard Jackson won his fourth Ryan acting nomination for playing the titular role in Ebenezer.

Grace Arrowood was selected as a Weiss Design participant for scenic design. Arrowood will present her own original concept of a set design for competitive review. The Weiss competition requires entrants to create a technical design for a hypothetical show.

Posted by: northeastnation | January 29, 2015

Concert celebrates music that fueled the Civil Rights movement

As part of Northeast State’s Black History Month events, vocalist Jonathan Blanchard will present “Music that Fueled the Civil Rights Movement” at the Wellmont Regional Center for the Performing Arts on Feb. 2 at 7:00 p.m. Admission is free and open to all.

Drawing on the songs of Billie Holiday, Mahalia Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Curtis Mayfield, Sly Stone, and Marvin Gaye, Blanchard presents iconic music that was an essential component of the movement. His performance captures the vitality and idealism necessary to fuel dangerous marches, sit-ins, picket lines, and freedom rides.

Jonathan Blanchard (courtesy of Allen Cooley Photography)

Jonathan Blanchard (courtesy of Allen Cooley Photography)

Blanchard, in the tradition of great soul singers, creates music that allows his deep, soulfully rich voice to blend naturally with the times. He movingly conveys poignant words and melodies to evoke feelings of love respect, hard times, and revolt. His voice of depth and richness draws comparisons to the likes of Paul Robeson, Isaac Hayes, and Barry White.
Blanchard recently released his first studio album entitled “Freedom’s Soul…the REVOLUTION.” Recorded in Memphis and Atlanta, the album is a fusion of soul, funk, jazz, spirituals, hip-hop, and R&B.

Blanchard’s artistic tastes were first forged in grade school. However, by the time he entered high school his artistic curiosity led him to sing in various choruses and to act in a number of theatre productions. He attended Tennessee State University, receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees in commercial music and music education, respectively. While in college, he learned to weave the various elements of his artistic nature into a magnetic style of delivery.

His stage credits include roles in Your Arms Are Too Short to Box with God, A Westside Story, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Scipio, Do Lord Remember Me, and The Wiz. In addition, he’s done voice-over work for local and national concerns, appeared on Memphis’ WREG – Live at 9 program, and most recently been the featured singing artist on the PBS film Underground Railroad – Quilt Code for Georgia Public Broadcasting.

Northeast State’s performing arts center is located adjacent to the Tri-Cities Regional Airport, 2425 Highway 75.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. For more information, call 423.279.7669 or visit

Posted by: northeastnation | January 22, 2015

Open auditions for The Laramie Project set Jan. 27 & 28

Northeast State Community College Department of Theater announces open auditions next week for its spring production of The Laramie Project.

Actors are invited to two open auditions scheduled Jan. 27 & 28 scheduled from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at the Wellmont Regional Center for the Performing Arts (WRCPA) on the main campus 2425 Highway 75, adjacent to Tri-Cities Regional Airport in Blountville. The play is being presented by special arrangement with Dramatis Play Service, Inc.

Written by Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project, The Laramie Project tells the story of the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard outside Laramie, Wyoming, and how local residents dealt with a hate crime happening in their town. Shepard, a 21-year-old gay student registered at the University of Wyoming, was tied to a cattle fence, beaten severely, robbed, and left to die on a bitterly cold night. Two local men were charged and convicted of the crime. The Laramie Project is a deeply moving theatrical experience that explores both the savage darkness and extraordinary compassion of humanity. The production contains mature subject matter that may not be suitable for all audiences.

Performers are asked to gather in the lobby of the WRCPA Theater. All actors should be familiar with the story and are asked to prepare a one-minute monologue to be read at the audition. Call backs will be made on Jan. 29 between 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Production dates are March 19-22 and March 26-29.

For more information, contact Northeast State Theater at 423.354.2479 or e-mail

Grand Tetons fenced in

Posted by: northeastnation | January 16, 2015

Northeast State lands $150,000 workforce training grant

Northeast State has received a $150,000 grant to support advanced technology workforce training opportunities throughout Northeast Tennessee.

The funding is provided through a Walmart Foundation grant, which is managed by the American Association of Community Colleges. It is referred to as the JRWA Bridge Initiative, which stands for Job Ready, Willing, and Able. Northeast State was one of only 17 colleges across the United States to receive the award.

The colleges will focus on current and potential growth of jobs specific to their region. They will work closely with local businesses, economic development leaders, and area workforce systems to address the needs of the unemployed. The JRWA initiative aims to provide more than 5,000 unemployed adults with new skills, credentials, and jobs.

The three-year grant will be administered by the College Access Programs office at Northeast State. The initiative will recruit new students to Northeast State’s advanced technology programs in the identified sectors to assist underemployed/unemployed individuals.

Students will get help with admissions, financial aid, career guidance, and counseling. The program will also provide additional support to students currently enrolled in the identified advanced technology programs at Northeast State.

“The program will work with students to build their employability,” said Ashley Dickson, interim director of College Access Programs. “This means help with resume skills, interviewing skills, and finding internship and job shadowing opportunities.”

Dickson said the program will provide assistance for up to 350 people.

A new workforce grants focuses on technical education skills.

A new workforce grants focuses on technical education skills.

The initiative will focus on several advanced technology programs, such as welding, electrical, electromechanical, machine tool, manufacturing/engineering, mechanical technology, drafting, and chemical process operations.

Dickson said there is an ample supply of employers with demand for these skill sets in the region. The Tri-Cities, like many areas, is experiencing an aging workforce, which will result in increasing demands for middle-skill labor.

“The mission of the JRWA Bridge Initiative is to provide our area industries and businesses with a skilled workforce, as well as to decrease the unemployment rate in Northeast Tennessee,” Dickson said.

Middle-skill jobs, as defined by the National Skills Coalition, are those requiring postsecondary education below the baccalaureate level; they make up the largest part of America’s labor market. High-skill workers possess technical training and industry certification or an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in a manufacturing-related field. Northeast State’s Industrial Technology and Electrical Technology programs prepare high skill workers for middle-skill jobs that include Advanced Manufacturing occupations.

Northeast State’s Industrial Technology and Electrical Technology programs prepare high skill workers for middle-skill jobs that include advanced manufacturing occupations.

Northeast State’s Industrial Technology and Electrical Technology programs prepare high skill workers for middle-skill jobs that include advanced manufacturing occupations.

In addition, manufacturing is a major industry in the Northeast Tennessee region; the area provides one-third of the state’s manufacturing jobs in Tennessee. Recognized as the second largest industrial employment area in the state, it is home to Eastman Chemical Company, Domtar Paper, A.O. Smith Water Heaters, and other manufacturers.

Letters of support from local employers, submitted for the College’s Master Planning process, indicate a need for graduates from the following Northeast State Programs: Machine Tool, Manufacturing, Welding/Metal Fabrication, Combination Welding, Computer-Aided Drafting; Industrial Operations, and Machine Tool Operations. Wright Tool, Inc., A.O. Smith Water Products, Eastman Chemical, and Decanter Machine, Inc., through letters of support for other projects, have committed to support these programs and consider program completers for employment.

Posted by: northeastnation | January 14, 2015

Open registration for spring Jan. 15

Spring classes are still available at Northeast State with online registration ongoing and a daylong open registration session happening tomorrow at three area campuses.

Register for spring classes tomorrow at the main campus, KCHE, or Elizabethton.

Register for spring classes tomorrow at the main campus, Northeast State campuses at Kingsport, Bristol, and Elizabethton.

Open registration is scheduled for Jan. 15 from 8:15 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admissions representatives will be registering students in the admissions office of the main campus in Blountville; at the offices of Northeast State at Elizabethton, 386 Highway 91; Northeast State at Bristol, 620 W. State St., Suite 300, and at the Kingsport Center for Higher Education, 222 West Main St., Kingsport.

Northeast State applicants can view the complete spring schedule at  Fees for the spring semester are due to be paid on the day of registration.

For more information, visit the web site or call the College’s office of Admissions at 1.800.836.7822 or 423.323.0253 or the division of Evening and Distance Education at 423.323.0221.

Posted by: northeastnation | January 13, 2015

Northeast State hosts College Goal Sunday Jan. 25

Northeast State hosts the annual College Goal Sunday event on Jan. 25, from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. in the General Studies Building of the College’s main campus, 2425 Highway 75, adjacent to Tri-Cities Regional Airport.

College Goal Sunday is Jan. 25.

College Goal Sunday is Jan. 25.

College Goal Sunday ( is a free, volunteer charitable effort to provide information and assist low-income and first-generation college students and their families. College Goal Sunday helps families complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) required to qualify for college financial aid nationwide.

You can sign up for the event at Students and/or parents should bring the following items if available:
• 2014 federal tax return or other income documentation
• Social security numbers for student and parents
• Driver’s license
• 2014 W-2 forms or other records of income
• 2014 untaxed income records – social security, temporary assistance to needy families, welfare, or veterans benefits records
• 2014 bank statements
• 2014 business and investment mortgage information, stock, bond, and other investment records
• Alien registration card (if not a U.S. citizen)

The FAFSA form, used at colleges, universities, and technical schools nationwide, should be submitted before Feb. 15 to get the maximum aid available, even if the student has not selected a college. In addition to it being the application for federal aid, the FAFSA form also serves as the application for the Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship and the Tennessee Student Assistance Award programs.

For additional information, contact the Northeast State office of Financial Aid at 423.323.0252, e-mail or visit

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