EVENT: Public staged reading of SUNDIAL, a new play about coal mining and communities
Thursday, December 4 at 7:00 p.m. in Athens, Ohio
The Dramatists Guild’s First Thursdays Reading Series presents a public staged reading of Sundial, a play about West Virginia coal mining and the communities affected by it. The new work will be presented at the Hahne Theater in Kantner Hall (Ohio University Campus, Athens) at 7:00 p.m. Thursday, December 4. Admission is free.
In Sundial, a West Virginia elementary schoolteacher pushes to change the policies of the coal company that are affecting her town. But her position proves complicated, as her neighbors, friends, and family work for – and benefit from – the coal business.
Inspired by the events of Marsh Fork Elementary and the mountaintop removal process occurring beside it, the new play explores the relationship and responsibilities between corporation and community.
While a graduate student at Ohio University, writer Jason Half received a grant, the Anthony Trisolini Award, to begin research for a play that would explore the subject of coal mining and its effects on Appalachian communities. An earlier draft of the script had a public reading in June, presented at the Mid-Ohio Valley Players Theatre in Marietta.
“I don’t want this play to take sides,” said Half. “Instead, I hope Sundial makes the audience ask questions about the best way a town can work with a business that has both benefits and risks.”
Jason Half is an Ohio-based writer who has taught scriptwriting at Marietta College and through the Colony Theater and the Ohio Arts Council. Recently, his work has received public presentations in Chicago and Pittsburgh. He is the recipient of the 2010 Scott McPherson playwriting award. He currently teaches composition and literature courses at West Virginia University at Parkersburg.
This is Half’s first full-length script set in the Mid-Ohio Valley. The honesty and quiet passion of the West Virginia characters came alive for Half as they confronted challenges to family, work, and land in the play, he said.
The reading will be directed by Ohio University graduate student Ryan Holihan. Student and faculty actors will perform a variety of roles as parents, miners, teachers, officials, protestors, and supporters in the play.
“I’m excited to bring this story to an audience affected by these issues,” Half said. “It’s a story that will speak to everyone in this area who sees it.”
More about Jason Half
Jason Half has been telling stories for two decades. A graduate of Ohio University’s M.F.A. Playwriting program, Jason’s stage plays have had readings in Chicago and Pittsburgh and performances in Maine, Ohio, and Wisconsin. He is the recipient of the 2010 Scott McPherson Playwriting Award and, as writer and director, his film The Ballad of Faith Divine won the Best Feature award at 2009’s Colony Film Festival. In 2011, Jason’s sitcom pilot My Advice was a finalist in a national
script contest and was optioned by a New York City production company. Jason has taught film, theater, and composition courses at Marietta College, Washington State Community College, and West Virginia University – Parkersburg.