Playwrite and performer Arla Ralston hopes to bring Sherlock Holmes to Pocahontas County

Arla Ralston, who recently moved to Pocahontas County from Charleston where she was involved with theater for more than 20 years, is now recruiting anyone who may be interested in acting in a Sherlock Holmes play, which will be presented at the Pocahontas County Opera House in May.

Auditions for “Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure” will be held Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the McClintic Library in Marlinton.

“There are often a lot of people who say, ‘oh, I’ve never done this before, so I can’t’ and that’s just not true. Everybody starts somewhere and I think this kind of a play that’s so much fun and involves a good ensemble cast is a great way to start. So if there’s someone out there who is hesitant, it’s not going to be a formal audition. We’re going to sit around in the library and read through some of the scenes,” Ralston said.

The Pocahontas County Drama Workshop produces a play each year, usually directed by Margaret Baker who has other commitments this year. Ralston said this is her first time directing a play by herself. However, she has an accomplished track record of theater experience.

“I’ve written a play called ‘Escape from Plumfield’ that’s based upon Louisa May Alcott and Jo March, her character in Little Women. I used to perform Louisa May Alcott and Mary Todd Lincoln as a part of the Humanities Council’s History Alive program. I traveled around to schools and libraries and social clubs in West Virginia and in some of the surrounding states and portrayed those two historical characters.

“I wrote a play called, ‘On The Outside’ that was based on a series of interviews, oral histories, of people who had been in West Virginia’s institutions for the developmentally disabled: Spencer and State Hospital, and some of the other hospitals, Weston, and a group of writers interviewed these people and then I took the stories that we got and turned them into a full-length play that was performed in Charleston and Lewisburg and Clarksburg.

“I took one character, a woman whose story particularly appealed to me and turned it into a one-woman play, and I performed that play at a series of conferences around the country that deal with people with developmental disabilities and de-institutionalization. I performed it for the President’s Commission on Mental Retardation. This was all several years ago. And I’ve written some other shorter plays that were part of some of the festivals in Charleston,” Ralston said.

Ralston needs six men and two women to cast the play, which might be difficult. She has a back-up plan if she cannot find enough actors.

“If I don’t get the right cast for this show, I do have a back-up plan of a smaller cast play that I think would work really well here too. But I don’t want to say too much more about it because I’d like to encourage everybody to show up and audition for Sherlock Holmes,” she said.

She said that anyone interested should not be concerned if they can’t speak in a British accent because the play is not meant to be a faithful representation of the stereotypical Sherlock Holmes story.

“It’s not a classic who-done-it. It’s more about the relationship between Sherlock Holmes and his arch enemy Moriarty and how they try to out-do each other, and so there’s an element of mystery, but it’s not a who-done-it … The dialog is really fast and funny. It’s almost a farce, in a way.”

The play will require a significant time commitment.

“In the first month in March is when we’ll start, we’ll probably have rehearsals twice a week and then we’ll get a little more intense to three days a week and toward the end it’s an every evening commitment for the last couple of weeks.”

Ralston is also recruiting volunteers who would like to help backstage with sets or costumes. For more information, contact Ralston at 304-799-2484 or

Story By

Kelly Taber

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