"Hodge Podge" performers at ARTS/West
“Hodge Podge” performers at ARTS/West (

“Hodge Podge” Series Returns to ARTS/West

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Ivars Balkits’ new play, Spirit Band on Mount Nebo, is part of the 2nd Annual Hodge Podge Reading Series, being held at ARTS/West on Sunday, Jan. 27 and Sunday, Feb. 17.

The play tells the tale of farmer Jonathan Koons’ log “spirit-house” during the 1850s.

“[The Spirit-House] attracted national attention in its time,” said Balkits. “Thousands of curiosity seekers and budding spiritualists came from all over the country to climb up the two and a half mile trail to Mount Nebo and the Koons’ farm. Many bore witness to musical instruments being played by unseen forces, angelic songs by up to 165 resident spirits, disembodied hands lit by phosphorus and writing messages, and the presiding spirit known as John King speaking through a trumpet.”

Kelly Lawrence of ARTS/West thinks Balkits’ play will be entertaining for anyone with an interest in Athens County.

“It’s about a family who lived on Mount Nebo and experienced the spiritual phenomenon there. Ivars plans to bring photos of the family to give faces to the voices in the play,” she said.

The series continues on Feb. 17 with a reading of Shunned by Larry Parr from Sarasota, Fla. The topic of this play is the torment felt by the youth of the Amish community to conform to the outside world.

One young man in particular must choose between his family’s plain way of life or his new-found talent in the performing arts.

Each selected play will be presented as an informal reading. A “reading” is defined as actors presenting the words of a script, using scripts-in-hand. With no rehearsals prior to the public reading, each reading will be kept extremely simple so that the playwright’s words may be the focus of the event.

The readings will be followed by a reception with light refreshments and a talk-back session where audience members are invited to give their feedback on the plays. The feedback is essential to the playwright as they use it to further develop their play.

Both events are free and open to the public and begin at 1 p.m. Donations are encouraged.