It seems almost anyone can name a National Day to hype their product, but today’s was declared by Congress. It commemorates the worst mining disaster in US history when 362 coal miners lost their life in Monogah, West Virginia in 1907.
One of my full length plays is based on the southwest West Virginia coal union wars of 1913. As a young actor I worked in two theaters in West Virginia and was inspired by the mountains and the people. I was lucky enough to win a contest and get a full production at Centre Stage in Greenville, South Carolina. It was thrilling. The title then was “Coal Creek” and the actors and director and designers did a wonderful job.
This was a culmination of a number of readings across the country and numerous re-writes along the way. Since then I have continued to re-write the play and it is now titled “Bloodletting in these Hills” from a quote by Mother Jones, who figures in but does not appear in the script. I have great respect for the struggles of the miners and their families in West Virginia. My greatest disappointment is that it has not found the chance to be produced in West Virginia. In fact, I offered it to one of the theaters I used to work for. They politely declined as coal mine companies were some of their funders and they may not like it. Hmmm, not much has changed there, huh?