Artistree, Inc., is a group of problem solvers, designers, and artists who have taken on theatrical production and arts education challenges in need of inspiring solutions.
Beginning in 1982, Clarissa Lega and Leon Fuller produced original plays for audiences as Wood & Strings Theatre. This national touring company has been to performing art centers, museums, festivals, and schools presenting folklore from around the world with vibrant forms of puppetry. These plays have been performed at the "National Geographic Live!" in Washington D.C., Detroit Institute of Arts, and Tribeca PAC in NYC.
In 2004, Artistree, Inc., was formed to manage Wood & Strings Theatre, which included services in designing and constructing commissioned sets and puppets for other theatrical companies. Artistree's clients for these services have included DreamWorks, Dollywood, and Kaiser Permanente. In addition, the company organizes and manages events in the arts, such as concert series, artist residencies in educational settings, and fine art exhibits.
The managing director, scenic artist, and puppetry designer for Artistree is Clarissa Lega. Leon Fuller is the artistic director and the technical design engineer for the sets and puppets that are built by the company. Each has careers spanning 40 years in this industry.
Clay Harris graduated Cum Laude from the University of Memphis with a BFA degree in Theatre Performance. As an adept director, writer, designer, visual artist, and craftsman, he has a creative force imbued with talent, skill, and energy.His work in theatre has taken him from New York’s off-Broadway to London’s West Riding, and hundreds of places in- between.
Dedicated to theatre work, he is a pioneer in his belief that the arts must be utilized in life as a tool for communication. Harris' approach goes one step beyond mere "arts appreciation" by acknowledging the invaluable work of "arts application." He has conducted many workshops in performing art centers, museums, and schools.
Since 2007, Harris has been the founder, director, and playwright for the Clay Harris Theatre. The theatre hosts 25 affiliated community players as cast members for his plays. He has written more than 100 plays and has staged over 500 productions from his original writings. Through these productions, he has directed more than 10,000 people.
A Talk with Clay Harris
In Memoriam 1912-1996
Minnie Pearl was a comedian played by Hickman County native Sarah Ophelia Colley Cannon. She was on the Grand Ole Opry from 1940 to 1991 and on the television show Hee Haw for 22 years before a stroke abruptly ended her career.
She is known for saying, "Howdy! I'm jes' so proud to be here!" at the beginning of each show. Minnie Pearl made a small Tennessee railroad switch famous. Grinders Switch was an imaginary town where "... there are no wars, no disease, and no quarrels and where your main worry was whether your feller was going to kiss you in the moonlight."
Minnie Pearl was the first woman inducted into the National Comedy Hall of Fame. She joined the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1975 and received the National Medal of Arts in 1992. On the night after her death, Dan Miller, WSMV anchor, simply said, "Thank you, Minnie, for showing us the right way to be a star."