The third installment in a nationally-acclaimed series of musicals inspired by Appalachia is performed tonight at Eastern Kentucky University.
A year ago, the community college professor who helped launch the “Higher Ground” series in 2005, was profiled in the New York Times. Robert Gipe, who’s a native of east Tennessee, says the trilogy is based on stories collected from Appalachia. Their newest production is called “Talking Dirt.”
“We framed it on the issue of young people and their decision to stay or leave and looked at what’s going on with the land and future prospects, the decisions they have to make and some of the decisions that we don’t always talk about,” said Gipe.
Like their other work, Gipe says “Talking Dirt” is an often humorous musical that confronts real issues.
“They should have that edge. They should deal with what’s real and what’s difficult, but then, like most of us, most of us get through the hard places in our life by making light of them at some point,” said Gipe.
Gipe says a cast of 40 musicians and actors will perform a dozen numbers inspired by bluegrass, folk and Gospel songs. Most of them are students from Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College in Harlan County.
Gipe adds “Talking Dirt” is different from their first two productions. Gipe also helped produce the trilogy’s first two parts, “Higher Ground” and “Playing with Fire.”
“Our original goal was to create a space where people could talk about what was going on in the community in a way that wouldn’t be so, necessarily divisive, where we could actually, kind of, talk about how to respond.”
“Talking Dirt is performed tonight in the Student Services Building on the Richmond campus of Eastern Kentucky University.