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Volume 24, Number 10 — November 2017

Barter Theatre's Appalachian Festival of Plays and Playwrights

December 28, 2011

Barter Theatre's Appalachian Festival of Plays and Playwrights (AFPP) 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 their festival-winning plays, which include Osborne's First Baptist of Ivy Gap; Wise Women; and My River, My Valley; and Bush's The Other Side of the Mountain; Comin' Up a Storm; and Where Trouble Sleeps. Each play received a full production by Barter and has gone on to enjoy successful productions nationwide.

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 Carter Family and Man of Constant Sorrow, the show that pays tribute to the career of Ralph Stanley. Both shows were written by local physician Douglas Pote and have been produced 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.

2011 AFPP Winners

• The top honor went to October, Before I Was Born by Lori Matthews, which will be presented this fall. This heart-pounding, suspenseful story follows a family stranded at their rural farm, desperate for news regarding their loved ones after the 1960 Tennessee Eastman Company explosion in Kingsport. Emotions come to a boil when family ties begin to unravel between Anne, a soon-to-be mother; Martha, her mother in-law; and Houston, the difficult son and brother-in-law. You'll be on the edge of your seat as this fast-paced, emotionally-charged roller coaster follows the family's attempts to cope with the unknown.

• 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 developer 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.

• Third place went to Catherine Bush's Walking Across Egypt, which will be produced as a mini-production in late July. "Bush is a favorite among Barter audiences and this play is a fine example of why," said AFPP director Nicholas Piper. Based on Clyde Edgerton's novel, this heartfelt tale tells the story of an aging woman who discovers that there is still plenty for her to do while she's alive and that giving is living. Two people find out just how badly they need each other when their worlds collide: one of devout faith, delicious cornbread and fine Southern manners and one of car theft, prison breaks and juvenile delinquency. Mattie Rigsbee, a Southern widow with a grown son, nosy neighbors and strong religious convictions, is looking for something more than soap operas to fill her time. She longs for company and someone to cook for. When the local dogcatcher ends up on her front porch, she gets just that — and then some. She takes in a troubled, foul-mouthed boy when no one else will and gives him a chance, proving that with a little direction, Southern cooking and prayer, you can stand up for what you believe and stand on your own two feet.

• Other finalists include Trapped by Ross Brown, Facades by C. Robert Jones, Once on Buffalo Mountain by Joseph Maiolo, and A Name for the Moon by Thomas Stephens.

For information on submitting plays, call 276-619-3316 or visit www.bartertheatre.com/festival.

>> To return to A! Magazine's January cover story on Rick Rose, The Bard of Barter, click HERE.