The Iron Mountain Review Vol. XXXII
The Editor’s Page
At its groundbreaking in 2013, the McGlothin Cen ter for the Arts was heralded as “a beacon for arts and culture in this region” by then President Rosalind Re ichard and a space that would “stimulate the imagi nations and hone the skills” of students by then Vi sual & Performing Arts Division Chair Lisa Withers. It only seemed fitting then that the first literary festival following the building’s completion not only be held in the space, but also that the event itself focus on regional theatre. Using John Lang’s 25th Anniversary gathering as a model and working in collaboration with the E&H Theatre Department, the 2015 literary festival included panel discus sions, readings, and live performances. Designated “A Cele bration of Appalachian Theatre,” the two-day event brought together well-known regional theatre scholars and perform ers as reflected in this issue of The Iron Mountain Review . Topics of discourse highlighted Appalachian Theatre’s relationship to tourism, social activism, academic institu tions, and contemporary playwrighting. These robust ex changes added much to our understanding of the field; and for their faithful transcription, we are indebted to Morgan Cahill. In conjunction with scholarly conversation about Ap palachian theatre, theatrical performances were central to the celebration. Storyteller Hannah Harvey brought min ers’ experiences to life through her interpretation of oral histories collected in the region. Writer Robert Gipe gave a spirited reading from his debut novel Trampoline (2015) and participated in Higher Ground: 10th Anniversary Review , a compilation of previous pieces crafted especially for this festival. The full script is available in this issue. The festi val’s final performance, Catherine Bush’s The Other Side of the Mountain , highlighted LGBTQ+ issues in the region. In many ways the performances helped to illustrate the topics discussed during the panel sessions. It was an obvi ous and seemingly natural fit to highlight the work of Cath erine Bush, Barter Theatre’s playwright-in-residence, during the literary festival and to have award-winning theatre pro
fessor Kelly Bremner direct it. While The Other Side of the Mountain does portray the concerns of a lesbian couple as they wrestle with familial acceptance in rural eastern Ken tucky, it also relies on stereotypical places and people to set its scenes. As with any depiction of a culture, images that contradict lived experience can emerge, even in surprising places. As festival participant Anne Shelby writes in “The ‘R’ Word: What’s So Funny (and Not So Funny) about Red neck Jokes,” “unlike the mountains, which can be seen from some distance, stereotypes jump out at you in ambush-at parties and meetings, at dinner with friends, from movies, from magazines and newspapers, from your favorite TV show. Even in college classes” (153). During Karen Sabo’s talk-back following the play it became evident that such an ambush had occurred; many audience members, includ ing Appalachian Studies scholars, had been taken aback by inaccuracies. While the resulting tension was uncomfortable, it also became the impetus for fruitful discussion about the play itself and the larger context around Appalachian stereo types including the desire to move beyond them as well as the seeming impossibility of doing so. At the Appalachian Studies Association Conference in the spring of 2016, I convened a panel entitled “Voices from the Other Side: A New Appalachia, An Old Affront.” It featured schol ars Jack Wright and Anita Turpin, both of whom partici pated in the festival, as well as Thomas Alan Holmes and Kathleen Chamberlain. Their presentations considered dramaturgy, diversity, controversy, time, types, and cultural positioning as it pertained to The Other Side of the Mountain as well as other works by Catherine Bush. Essays by Kath leen Chamberlain and Thomas Alan Holmes are included in this issue. I want to offer my sincere thanks to Thomas Alan Holmes for his work as guest editor on this issue and to Jennifer Daniel for her tireless work as assistant editor.
Robinson, Allie. “E&H Breaks Ground on Woodrow W. McGlothlin Center for the Arts.” Bristol Herald Courier , 19 April 2013, https://heraldcourier.com/ archive/e-h-breaks-ground-on-woodrow-w-mcgloth lin-center-for-the-arts/article_b0937236-ab8d-11e2- a477-0019bb30f31a.html#tncms-source=signup.
Shelby, Anne. “The ‘R’ Word: What’s So Funny (and Not So Funny) about Redneck Jokes.” Back Talk from Appalachia: Confronting Stereotypes , edited by Dwight B. Billings, Gurney Norman, and Katherine Ledford, University Press of Kentucky, 2000, pp. 153 – 160.
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