Julia Roberts Goad
MCCARR, Ky - Minutes before the public premiere of “Blood Song,” a play based on the Hatfield McCoy feud, Lauren Stewart is working on special effects, discussing fake blood and addressing last minute changes to songs to be used in the production. Yet, she is glowing, clearly in her element.
“We have had a great time,” she told the Daily News. “Its been awhile since we have had an outdoor production, and we’re having fun.”
Stewart is the artistic director for the Artist’s Collaborative Theater, the Elkhorn City based company who is staging Blood Song this summer at the Hatfield McCoy park in McCarr.
The play was written by Chelsea Marcantel, an Abington, Virginia, resident who teaches Introductory Playwrighting at Virginia Intermont College. Marcantel’s work has received awards from The Women’s Theatre Alliance of Chicago, Collaboraction and The Chicago Union League Civic and Arts Foundation.
“Our goal is to balance entertainment and accuracy,” said Stephanie Richards, director of the Artist Collaborative Theater and Fine Arts Agent with the UK Extension Service.
Speaking to the audience just before the actors took the stage, Richards said the play is an effort at accuracy.
“We wanted to do this story, and do it well,” Richards said. “We wanted to be as dramatic and and honest as we can, we have tried to bring a balanced story to the stage.”
The all-volunteer cast includes some local actors. David Baisden, a Williamson resident, plays Ellison Hatfield. Baisden could only speak briefly shortly before the drama began, as he had to work out the choreography of a fight scene.
“This is my first role,” he said. “But I’m not nervous. I’m having a great time.”
Some of the younger actors were seasoned veterans, such as Keeli Collins, from Elkhorn Creek, who plays Nancy McCoy. While only in her teens, she has six seasons with ACT under her belt.
“What makes this play different is that we are not playing characters,” Collins said. “We are playing real people.”
Kristin Coleman from Pikeville plays two roles, Alafair McCoy and Patty Cline. She said she has been with ACT for a year, and had played several roles.
“But there are so many different emotions in these parts,” she said. “Its really different.”
As the play opens, the cast comes from behind the audience, singing “Lets go down to the river to pray.” Key characters in the story address the audience, giving heartfelt insight into the story of the most famous feud in American history.
“You sow blood, you reap blood, you sow death, you reap death,” a voice rings out. “God’s own reckoning is coming.”
The play is rated PG-13. General admission cash only $10. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. on July 26, 28,23, 24, 30 and 31. Matinees will be shown at 3 p.m. July 28, August 4, 24, September 1 and 2. Return visits to the play are free with an original armband, if accompanied by a new audience member.
For more info visit HatfieldMcCoyArts.com