Braswell enters fourth year with Liberty!

Published 9:48 am Monday, July 17, 2017

Jonesborough’s Mark Braswell has played a few different parts over the years, and the 2017 rendition of Liberty! The Saga of Sycamore Shoals has him bringing to life historical figure Robert Young.

For Braswell, who also serves on the board of directors for the Friends of Sycamore Shoals, this is his fourth year being involved with the drama, and he said that Thursday’s opening night was one of the best he has been a part of.

“I am so excited and had so much fun last night,” said Braswell. “It was the best and well-attended opening that we have had in the four years I have been involved. We had great crowd engagement. As I could tell from behind the scenes, we were pretty tight. We didn’t have too many errors.”

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Liberty! is the only production that Braswell acts in, and he became interested in playing a part in the drama through his job as a Regional Director of External Affairs for the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation, a job that has him working with many state parks.

“I am totally not an actor,” Braswell said. “One year I became interested in the drama as being a potential walk on through my job. My job duties expanded to include state parks, and one of the ways I was trying to get a feel of what goes on at state parks is their programming.”

“I live in Jonesborough, and Sycamore Shoals is very close to me, and I knew about Liberty! through one of my co-workers. I said, ‘Hey, can I walk on and be a part of the cast?’ I had never done anything like that.’”

Braswell ended up landing a speaking part during his first time with the drama as he played William Bean. Braswell remembers when the director first called him up to tell him what part they needed him at.

“I said, ‘Well, OK. You do know that I am not an actor,’” Braswell said with a laugh. “’You don’t have to be an actor.’ was the reply I got. They coached me and taught me, and everything went great.”

The following two years, Braswell played James Robinson. This year, Braswell is playing the part of Robert Young, who is depicted during the drama as being pretty good with a rifle.

“He is the fellow who is given credit for shooting (British Major Patrick) Fergeson at the Battle of Kings Mountain,” said

Braswell. “He actually did call his rifle “Sweet Lips.” It was named after his wife in total respect to both the gun and his wife.”

Braswell said that it gives him chills to play the part of someone who is so important to history. Braswell also wanted to point out that what used to be a part of Robert Young’s farm is now the site for the Mountain Home Medical Center.

“Roberts Young’s family donated a large portion of his farm to the U.S. government,” said Braswell. “That portion was used and continues to be used as a home and resting place for our veterans. I feel like that is an important part of the character and the history.”

Liberty! The Sage of Sycamore Shoals is currently running at the Sycamore Shoals State Park. Shows are being presented Thursdays through Saturdays and will run through July. Showtime is at 7:30 p.m. and box offices open at 6 p.m.