The Times West Virginian

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April 15, 2009

Memories of Number 9

FAIRMONT — A play to be performed at Fairmont State will explore the memories and effects of the 1968 Farmington Number Nine mine disaster.

“Stories from the Farmington Mine Disaster,” a devised performance piece, will be presented May 1-2 and 7-9 at 7:30 p.m. and May 3 at 2 p.m. in Room 314 of Wallman Hall. Tickets are $5 for general admission and $4 for students with ID. For tickets, call the Box Office at (304) 367-4240.

The play is based on interviews conducted by Celi Oliveto, Samantha Huffman and Jason Young as part of a project funded by the FSU Undergraduate Research Program.

It is “actually many stories,” said director Dr. Francine Kirk. Most of the characters are compilations of actual persons who were interviewed.

“With the exception of Bill Evans (editor of the Times-West Virginian at the time), we used no one’s real names,” she said. “We chose names that sound like they could be from North Central West Virginia.”

There are no costumes, no scenery, few props. Photos taken by Bob Campione, a free-lance photographer, will provide a visual back drop.

“We can’t re-create that world. We let Bob’s pictures tell the story.

“Our goal was to see how these stories intersect and how these people dealt with the tragedy.”

The students worked with oral historians Michael and Carrie Nobel Kline, who operate Talking Across the Lines, a folklife documentary and projection consulting firm, in Elkins. They instructed the researchers in interviewing techniques and provided them with models of documentary style research performance, including an audio story about the Farmington Mine explosion the Klines produced for West Virginia Public Radio.

Twenty actors will portray the 30 or more characters.

Dialogue was written “to capture the way people talk around here,” Kirk said.

“We’ve taken a lot of dramatic liberties with some of the information, but for the most part it’s pretty historially accurate,” Kirk said.

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