Editor’s Notebook: A moment in the sun

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by Brian Clarey

The early spring sunshine coddled Laurelyn Dossett, citizen of the Triad, as she sat in repose on a downtown Greensboro bench, striking highlights in her long, blonde hair strong enough to cast a glare.

Last night she sat in at Lucky 32 in Greensboro with Rhiannon Giddens, who provides the lilting voice, learned strings and plucky banjo for the Grammy-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops. Later today she’ll be working on Triad Stage’s Brother Wolf with collaborator Preston Lane. And then this weekend they’ll bring the musical, which they wrote together for a Greensboro production eight years ago, to the Hanesbrands Theatre in Winston-Salem for a reprise.

These are the kinds of collaborations that develop when people with talent decide to stick around awhile.

“We’ve done five plays together,” she says of Lane, “and it’s great that they’ve done well, but it’s more important that we just got to do them.”

It’s a new space, and the show will have new costumes, a new set, new actors. In many ways, it’s an entirely new production.

“There’s different things that the space brings out,” Dossett says. “It’s so much bigger, so there’s more traveling time as you walk across the stage. Different lighting and acoustics. A lot of [the differences] we won’t know until we get in the space.”

It’s a loose, Appalachian retelling of the story of Beowulf, which Dossett says she still hasn’t read in its entirety, with the kind of old-time music for which she has become known, first in her time with Polecat Creek but now a much broader audience.

Case in point: She’ll be making the trek all the way from Greensboro to Winston-Salem for this one, which runs through May 25. To hear some say it, that short stretch of Business 40 between the cities is insurmountable.

“I would like to think that this work will bridge that gap,” she says. “The play is so regional, and because Winston-Salem is that much more in the foothills — it has a westward orientation — there’s that much more association with Appalachia.”

A cold wind comes through the plaza, wiping away the heat of the sun. That’s her cue. Preston Lane — and the theatergoing audiences of Winston-Salem — await.