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Volume 26, Number 2 — February 2019

Winners of Appalachian Festival of Plays and Playwrights

August 19, 2011

ABINGDON, Va. — Barter Theatre has announced the winners of its eleventh annual Appalachian Festival of Plays and Playwrights (AFPP) that was held July 26 – August 6, 2011.

"We are delighted to have had another successful year of the AFPP – audiences and playwrights alike raved about the quality of the readings, talkbacks and the experience in general," said AFPP director Nicholas Piper.

• The top honor goes to October, Before I Was Born by Lori Matthews. It's 1960, in Kingsport, TN, when a family learns that there has been an explosion at Tennessee Eastman Company. Martha, Anne and Houston are stranded at the family's rural farmhouse with limited access to information about the disaster and whether or not their loved ones have survived the blast. Watch as this fast paced emotional roller coaster follows the family's attempts to cope with the unknown – ultimately igniting a different kind of explosion.

"'October, Before I Was Born' is a heart-pounding, suspenseful play I am excited to produce in 2012," said Richard Rose, Producing Artistic Director of Barter Theatre. "I have never seen our audience so united in their excitement and their admiration for a new play emerging from the AFPP in the 11 years that we have been holding staged readings as I did for "October, Before I Was Born.' Lori Matthews has truly written a play which has already touched the hearts and minds of our audience."

Second place was awarded to The Wind Farmer by Dan O'Neil. The play takes place on the windiest farm in the world as a rookie energy developer goes head to head with a farmer in an effort to get the rights to his land. By the next morning, everything – the future of both the field rep and the farmer's daughter, as well as that of the wind farm and perhaps the world – hangs in the balance of a dead man's signature.

The Wind Farmer will be produced in 2012 as the second play in Barter's Shaping of America Series. This series, also led by Piper, asks the questions, "who are we as a nation," "where did we come from" and "how did we get here?" It's the stories that aren't found in history books.

The first in the Shaping of America series is Catherine Bush's The Road to Appomattox, opening in the fall at Barter Stage II. 2011 marks the 150th anniversary of America's Civil War and the year 2026 marks the 250th anniversary of the founding of America, Barter Theatre will investigate the shaping of America from its founding to its present through the development of one new play per year dedicated to this theme. For more information visit

The Wind Farmer is a wonderfully theatrical piece that goes right to the heart of what we hope to accomplish with our Shaping of America series – finding unique stories that shed light on who we are as a country," said Piper. "'The Wind Farmer' takes a surprising look at our country's exploitation of land, love and energy."

Third place went to Catherine Bush's Walking Across Egypt, a second adaptation of a Clyde Edgerton novel, the first being Where Trouble Sleeps. "Because of the great success of the world-premiere of Where Trouble Sleeps, we are all excited about the further collaboration of Bush with Edgerton," added Rose.

Walking Across Egypt tells the story of an aging woman who discovers that there is still plenty for her to do while she's alive. It's a heartfelt tale with lots of laughs and surprises as two worlds meet: one of devout faith, delicious cornbread and fine Southern manners and one of car theft, prison breaks and juvenile delinquency; and two people find out just how badly they need each other. Walking Across Egypt has been selected to receive further development as a mini-production for the 2012 AFPP.

• The other AFPP finalists are Trapped by Ross Brown, Façades by C. Robert Jones, Once on Buffalo Mountain by Joseph Maiolo and A Name for the Moon by Thomas Stephens.

Barter's Appalachian Festival of Plays and Playwrights was founded to give an authentic voice to the stories and playwrights of Appalachia. A number of AFPP plays have gone on to be developed and produced by Barter Theatre. Playwrights Ron Osborne and Catherine Bush have had great success with Barter's AFPP through their festival-winning plays, which include First Baptist of Ivy Gap; Wise Women and My River, My Valley (by Osborne) as well as The Other Side of the Mountain, Comin' Up a Storm and Where Trouble Sleeps (by Bush). Each play received a full production by Barter and has gone on to enjoy successful productions at various theatres around the country.

Perhaps the most successful and recognizable shows to emerge from Barter's AFPP are two musicals: Keep on the Sunny Side: The Songs and Story of the Original Carter Family and Man of Constant Sorrow, the show that pays tribute to the careers of the Stanley brothers; Ralph and Carter. Both shows were written by local physician Douglas Pote and have been produced at theatres across the country in addition to receiving national tours by Barter. Barter's original cast recordings, which have been distributed internationally, have brought the attention of these works to countless others.

For more information on submitting plays, please contact AFPP Director Nicholas Piper at (276) 619-3316, or visit