Chattanooga Now Lee Theatre debuts original play about struggles of 1930s' coal miners

Chattanooga Now Lee Theatre debuts original play about struggles of 1930s' coal miners

February 14th, 2018 by Staff Report in Chattanooga Now - Art

Anna Marie Brendel plays Lillie Mae Bostic in "When Mountains Move." (Contributed Photo)

Anna Marie Brendel plays Lillie Mae Bostic in...

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Lee University Theatre will present the premiere of "When Mountains Move," an original play by Stacey Isom Campbell, associate professor of creative writing at Lee.

"When Mountains Move" will be performed at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 16-17 and 22-24 in the Buzz Oates Black Box Theater on the Cleveland, Tenn., campus.

"I have had the pleasure of serving as a reader for several of Stacey's plays and working with her on a few workshop productions in the past," said Dr. Christine Williams, associate professor of theater at Lee.

"She is such a talented playwright and brings interesting characters to life. We are honored to have the opportunity to work on this new play and introduce it to our Cleveland community."

"When Mountains Move" is the tale of Lillie Mae Bostic, told through a chorus of coal miners accompanied by bluegrass musicians. Due to the unusual circumstances of her birth, Lillie Mae's father believes God has given her "a word for her people."

Set in Black Mountain, Ky., the story follows the decade-long labor struggle of coal miners for the basic human rights denied them in the 1930s. In the midst of the struggle, Lillie Mae searches for her "word" while growing up in the Closplint Church of God surrounded by women who join the fight for freedom.

While the play is fictional, it is inspired by historical accounts of Bloody Harlan in the 1930s, the preacher-miners who secretly helped to get support from the United Mine Workers of America, and the oral histories of the people who remember the struggle. The play explores how the power of words and a little bit of faith can move mountains.

"The preacher-miners of the region played an important role in the coal miners' fight for justice," said Campbell. "This play draws attention to a history that many people do not know."

Tickets are $10 adults, $7 for children, senior adults and students. They are sold at the box office in the Communication Arts Building from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and one hour before each performance.

Lee Theatre recommends viewing "When Mountains Move" for ages 12 and up. No babes in arms, please.

For more information: www.leeuniversity.edu/theatre.