The Tennessee Theatre's 90-year history is rich with stories of performers, patrons, parties, poignant events and pop culture, and now the community can hear those stories through the voices of the people who lived them.
The Tennessee Theatre is launching "Behind the Tennessee: A Palace of Stories," a podcast intended to preserve, celebrate and share stories of the theatre through oral history.
"Nearly every person we meet has a story to share about the Tennessee Theatre," Tennessee Theatre Executive Director Becky Hancock said. "It feels natural to use the art of storytelling to celebrate the theatre's history of bringing music, cinema and performance arts to Knoxville. While doing so, the Tennessee Theatre served also as a backdrop for many life events, big and small, and experiences that reflect history and how our community changed over 90 years. The podcast episodes share the stories of these memories, from heartwarming and fun to intriguing and sometimes unexpected."
Upon turning 90 years old on Oct. 1, 2018, the Tennessee Theatre launched a 90-day celebration of community events, tours, giveaways and more. Leading up to and during the 90 Days for 90 Years celebration, theatre staff talked with community members about their memories of the Tennessee Theatre and gathered firsthand accounts of these experiences from the public, key individuals, current and former staff and others. Those stories now have been organized and edited into a podcast for the community to enjoy.
The podcast can be found at tennesseetheatre.com/podcast. The first episode titled, "Love, Dating and Marriage," will be available on Dec. 28, and theatre officials expect to release new episodes at the start of 2019.
"These first-person stories truly capture the richness of nine decades of beloved and poignant memories within the walls of the Tennessee Theatre, and now those memories will live on," Hancock said. "Capturing and preserving the oral history and impact of Knoxville's Grand Entertainment Palace was a critical undertaking. Sharing it with our community through the podcast will be a privilege and a joy."