Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Trail of the Lonesome Pine

This is a little post on a little play in a little town in Southwest Virginia. It's actually a good-sized production, with a big status--the official Outdoor Drama for the Commonwealth of Virginia. The theatrical treat I'm referring to is "The Trail of the Lonesome Pine" in Big Stone Gap, VA.

The Post newspaper in Big Stone Gap puts it nicely, it is "John Fox Jr.’s enduring love story of the dashing mining engineer, Jack Hale, and the demure and lovely mountain lass, June Tolliver." No, this one has never featured Henry Fonda or Fred MacMurray; that's the 1936 movie by the same name. But the same story and author, and with local talent to boot.

"The Trail" begins its 44th season this evening in Big Stone Gap. If you've never seen it...well then...shame on you! Some nice evening this summer, get over to Big Stone and enjoy theater under the stars.

And if you're not already reaching for your keys, here are a few links to whet your appetite:

Official Site of The Trail of the Lonesome Pine

Official Drama Program, courtesy the Coalfield Progress

Resource Guide by Judy Teaford, Mountain State University Article

And some links on John Fox, Jr.

John Fox, Jr. Museum

Bio from the Kentucky DAR


the Contrary Goddess said...

As a "real" native of Wise County, I always feel the need to clarify on the story of BSG, and the story of the Trail. It was, and is, a yankee town, settled by the people who lorded over those who worked in the mines and factories, and who would have thought the life of an honest mountain woman to be below our dearest June.

My maternal great-grandmother helped to hide Red Fox when he was running from the law, and when he was hanged, she went to his hanging. Her mother, btw, had been a Tolliver before her marriage. Anyway, by her telling of what really happened, Appalshop's production of The Second Hanging of Red Fox is closer to the truth.

That is not to deny the Trail of the Lonesome Pine's charm and entertainment value. I attend a production myself every few years. Just don't think of it as an accurate portrayal. I mean, really, it should occur to one why real mountain people would have such a negative image of themselves as portrayed in this play.

Jeremy Peters said...

Point well taken and thanks for including your grandmother's account of Red Fox.

As another "real" native of Wise Co., I always see the historical value in the play. True, it does not fairly portray mountain folk--in my estimation few productions do. But it does have more than entertainment value. It captures an important era in Appalachian history, the genesis of industrialization which forced our culture and economy to shift and that continues to define the modern region.

Oh, and I dare you to go to the middle of Big Stone and declare it a yankee town. Hee, hee!