The Times West Virginian

May 22, 2014

Fort to host ‘Whispers in the Wind’

Honoring people who came before us

By Chelsi Baker
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — Pricketts Fort State Park will honor those who came before us during its annual production of “Whispers in the Wind.”

The performance takes place in Prickett Cemetery and teaches guests about real people who are buried there that settled in the area and have some importance in its founding.

The show consists of eight monologues told from the characters’ perspective, and actors will be dressed in period clothing.

“They tell about their life, basically, and the time period that they lived in through the 18th and 19th centuries,” said Greg Bray, the executive director at Pricketts Fort.

The monologues are historically plausible, meaning they were written from a historical character’s point of view based on what is believed to have happened in that character’s life.

Historical characters include Jacob Prickett, Isaiah Prickett, Charity Prickett, Zackquill Morgan, John Champe and John Fimple, along with a fictional unknown woman and a Native American.

Pricketts Fort collaborated with the theater department at Fairmont State University, whose students researched history and wrote the monologues. The park works closely with them and the Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center.

Fairmont State also provided the costumes, which were pulled from a stock the theater department already had.

Adult actors from Town and Gown Theatre Company will portray the characters.

“We have been doing shows at Pricketts Fort for the last several summers. ... For me as a faculty member, the importance is our people working in the historical field,” said Dr. Fran Kirk, a theater instructor at FSU. “As a theater professional, there’s always work for our students in the historical museum world. There are people who do museum theater; there are people with theater backgrounds who become first-person interpreters.”

Guests will gather at the park’s Visitor Center and will then be guided along a short trail to the cemetery. Along the way, they will hear a brief introduction that sets the tone for the entire show, Bray said.

Seating is available in the cemetery, and the production is around one hour long.

The Prickett Cemetery was established around 1774 as a private burial ground.

“People who resided in and around Pricketts Fort during the 1700s are buried there,” said Bray. “The cemetery itself is family owned.”

It is still in use and contains modern headstones along with graves of settlers and Native Americans.

The monologues performed in the cemetery are important for Memorial Day because they portray people who served the area in a different way, Kirk said.

“These are people who came here when no one was here,” she said. “They’re the people who blazed the trail for the rest of us. ... While traditionally Memorial Day is about military service, these people did a service to us that is almost unimaginable.”

“Whispers in the Wind” performances are at 7 p.m. Sunday and Monday.

Tickets are $4 and should be purchased in advance at www.prickettsfort.org/shop or by calling 304-363-3030.

Seating is limited to 60 guests per show.

Email Chelsi Baker at cbaker@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @cbakerTWV.