Regional History Comes To Life In “An Appalachian Christmas Carol”

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On this edition of Conversations from Studio B, Emily Prince talks with Shelley Delaney about the Brick Monkey Theater's production of An Appalachian Christmas Carol, to be presented Dec. 13-Dec. 16 at Stuart's Opera House.

Two years in the making, this adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic was written by Guysville playwright Merri Biechler.

Biechler’s research took her to the Little Cities Archive in Shawnee, Ohio, as well as the archives at Ohio University's Alden Library.

In addition, Biechler has done on-site research in New Straitsville, Moxahala, Millfield, Glouster, The Plains, Chauncey and New Marshfield, and has consulted extensively with local historians including Cheryl Blosser, President of the New Straitsville History Group and co-author of Agents of Change: The Pioneering Roles of the Miners of the Little Cities of Black Diamonds in the Nation’s Early Labor Movement.

With members of Rattletrap String Band playing live, the play is steeped in traditional music of the region. OU Assistant Professor Jack Wright’s book and accompanying CDs, The Music of Coal, strongly influenced the play's evolution.

In the course of its development, the Brick Monkey Theater Ensemble has invited local audiences and supporters to respond to two early drafts of the play. With a significant amount of time set aside for feedback sessions at each of these readings, a dialogue emerged and a standard was set for community input.

For An Appalachian Christmas Carol, Stuart's Opera House is as much a character as a performance venue, and was chosen for its vibrant past and its intimate connection to the history of the region. 

During the regional mining heyday, trains ferried local miners and their families to meetings and performances at Stuart’s Opera House. The stage itself will be lit to reflect how the Opera House might have looked at the turn of the last century.

Performances will take place Thursday, Dec. 13 at 7 p.m., Friday, Dec. 14 and Saturday, Dec. 15 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 16 at 2 p.m. Visit for tickets and information.