January 15, 2010
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History will continue this season’s Collegiate Series with Fairmont State University’s (FSU) School of Fine Arts and Masquers production of Remembering #9 – Stories from the Farmington Mine Disaster. The program will take place in the Norman L. Fagan West Virginia State Theater of the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston on Monday, Jan. 25, at 7 p.m. A reception will precede the performance in the Great Hall beginning at 6 p.m. The evening’s event is timed to coincide with Arts Day at the Legislature, which will take place earlier in the day from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. in the upper and lower rotundas of the State Capitol. All activities are free and open to the public.
Remembering #9 is an original performance piece based on a series of interviews with the wives, children and friends of the victims and survivors of the Farmington explosion at the Consol No. 9 mine in Marion County on Nov. 20, 1968. The inspiration for the piece came from Francene Kirk, associate professor of communications and theatre arts at FSU, and her fascination and absorption with the tragedy of the Sago Mine Disaster on Jan. 2, 2006. She talked about her emotional response to the Sago explosion with three students, Samantha Huffman, Celi Oliveto and Jason Young, which led, in turn, to the quest for a story, one “in their own backyard,” the tale of the Consol No. 9 tragedy.
The three students went into the field and conducted interviews and research. With funding from the FSU Undergraduate Research Program, Kirk, Huffman, Oliveto and Young sought the help of professional oral historians Michael and Carrie Nobel Kline, who provided them with training and insight into the world of collecting oral history. Later, in August of 2008, and with more funding from the FSU Undergraduate Research Program, the group contracted with Greg Hardison, a museum theatre specialist at the Kentucky Historical Society, and Donna Ison, a playwright, who provided examples of museum theater and helped develop a treatment that included the goals for the production and a scenario of the action.
A cast of actors and writers was selected. The actors talked with Bob Campione and the Rev. Dick Bowyer, whose stories anchor the show, and began to improvise scenes for the play based on information from these talks, interview transcripts and other information from news media. The show includes audio and video clips, as well as photographs, many of which were provided by the people who were interviewed. Campion, who covered the disaster as a photo journalist, allowed the students to use his photos for this production.
For more information about the Collegiate Series or the FSU School of Fine Arts and Masquers production of Remembering #9 – Stories from the Farmington Mine Disaster, contact Jacqueline Proctor, deputy commissioner for the Division, at (304) 558-0220.
The Collegiate Series consists of performances and lectures by students and faculty from West Virginia’s colleges and universities. First Lady Gayle Manchin is the host of the program.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. Its administrative offices are located at the Culture Center in the State Capitol Complex in Charleston, which also houses the state archives and state museum. The Culture Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. The agency also operates a network of museums and historic sites across the state. For more information about the Division’s programs, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.