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Austin Peay State University to have Juilliard-trained actor, David Alford, present popular show “Smoke” as part of Clarksville’s Tobacco Talks at APSU

Austin Peay State University - APSUClarksville, TN – Juilliard-trained writer, actor, director, and teacher, David Alford, will present “Smoke: Abridged,” a condensed version of his popular play, “Smoke: A Ballad of the Night Riders,” which played to sold-out audiences this fall during the Bell Witch Festival in Adams, TN.  

Alford will perform a one-man singer-songwriter-storytelling version of his bluegrass-inspired musical in the Austin Peay State University (APSU) Trahern Theatre on Tuesday, February 28th, at 4:00pm. It is free, but seating is limited, and audience members must make reservations through Eventbrite. 

“Smoke” tells the long-suppressed local story of the dark history of the Black Patch Capital of the World and its tobacco war of the early 1900s through the gut-wrenching emotional saga of the Hartley family.

Audience members will witness the struggles that affected not only the fictional Hartleys, but also all the real families who farmed in this region of Western Kentucky and Middle Tennessee and grew dark-fired tobacco. It presents big business at its worst and the tobacco company’s role in turning farmer against farmer, brother against brother, and its backlash–giving birth to the masked vigilantes: The Night Riders.   

David Alford is a writer, actor, director, and teacher from Adams, Tennessee. He is a graduate of Austin Peay State University and the Juilliard School for Drama, and is perhaps best known for playing the character, Bucky Dawes, for six seasons on the television show “Nashville.”  

His local history plays, “Spirit: The Authentic Story of the Bell Witch of Tennessee” and “Smoke: A Ballad of the Night Riders,” are produced yearly in his hometown. 

The performance is part of the Tobacco Talks series sponsored through a partnership between the Clarksville Arts and Heritage Council and the Austin Peay College of Arts and Letters. 

The collaboration between the council and the college provides Austin Peay faculty and students with opportunities to interact with the Clarksville community and learn more about the area’s history and heritage.  The scheduled activities touch upon each department in the arts and humanities and help to strengthen the “town and gown” relationship between Austin Peay and the Clarksville community. 

The series is sponsored in part by the Tennessee Arts Commission and by federal award number SLFRP5534 awarded to the State of Tennessee by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.


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