PCHS Storytellers Travel To New York City To Share Tales Of Appalachia
Dunmore, WV – Five Pocahontas County HS theater students will be in New York City this weekend to present their stories celebrating life in Pocahontas County. They’re taking part in the “Performing the World” competition. They’re all from theater teacher Glenda VanReenan’s classes. Lauren Garretson explains how this opportunity came about.
“Everybody had to write a piece on their own and perform it at the Opera House [in Marlinton WV]” says Garretson. “It’s because Emily applied for a grant for a community theater project.”
That’s Emily Newton, former Vista Volunteer with Pocahontas County Parks & Rec and a veteran of community theater projects. The grant was approved and will pay the travel and conference registration for the five students. Garretson’s story is about shoes, or more accurately the perception that West Virginians don’t wear them.
“I created a piece that is a monologue” says Garretson. “Basically it’s all about Appalachian sterotypes. I play a teenage girl who upon having a conversation with someone and then finding out that she’s from West Virginia she’s asked if she actually wears shoes. She’s enraged by it, but by the end she realizes that she’s proud to be an Appalachian.”
Nicolas Solliday will portray Pocahontas County pioneer Jacob Marlin.
“My play is going to be an historical spoof on Jacob Marlin” says Solliday. “and it’s very interesting.”
Mackensie or Mac Halterman’s act is based on the Seneca Indian tribe and their spirituality. He says it was actually his backup plan, as he’d originally planned to do a monologue on the Battle of Droop Mountain. But as he worked on the project, the Seneca tribe story took precedence.
Lee Ryder and David Irvine based their story on the devastating flood of 1985. Irvine explains how they got the idea.
“Me and him did a spoof on the relations between past and present of the supermarkets of Fas Chek” says Irvine. “[We] originally came up with the idea because this guy that used to work there told us about it.”
They also talk about the Peoples Store, a business that was washed away in the 1985 flood.
Irvine says prior to researching his role, he had never heard of the Peoples Store. Likewise, the other students say they learned things they hadn’t known about their home before taking the project. For his part, Halterman says he’s glad he took part in the project.
“Yeah it’s my major, so something like this could be a major break” he says. “I’m looking forward to making contacts.”
The students also hope this project will have a return engagement at the high school next year.