By Portia Williams
September 27, 2013
PDT Staff Writer
GREENUP, Ky. — In light of Jesse Stuart Weekend, a dramatic adaptation of Jesse Stuart’s Old Ben will be performed by a cast primarily composed of students.
Anne Stephens, Extension Agent for Fine Arts in Greenup County is the producer of the Old Ben adaptation.
“We are partnered with the Jesse Stuart Foundation, and so every year, this time of year, we do a production. We do our school shows during the week. Our target audience is elementary students, and usually the shows are K-6, and this year we would have had over 1,800 students to see our show, and we are really pleased about that,” Stephens said
According to Stephens, the production open the public will be held Saturday. Stephens said the main character for the production is unique.
“Old Ben is actually a black snake. You don’t have too many productions in which the main character is a snake, which makes it kind of unique,” Stephens said.
Stephens said a real snake would not be utilized for the production.
“The snake that we will use is a theatrical puppet,” Stephens said.
Stephens said Carol Spence, a retired teacher directed and scripted the production.
“Carol is a wonderful volunteer. She is the one who actually scripted the adaptation of the story for us, and is the director of the show,” Stephens said.
Stephens said the student actors are composed of three different school districts. Stephens said students need to know about the life of Jesse Stuart.
“We feel like this is important because Jesse Stuart being a famous author from Greenup County, we want our students to understand the significance of that, and who he was,” Stephens said.
Stephens said music will be provided during the course of the production.
“We have music that will be incorporated into the show by a group called Kentucky Memories. They are a local old time, string band, we kind of have an Appalachian orchestra as part of our production. They are wonderful,” Stephens said.
Stephens a Janet Nelson, a Wild Life Rehabilitator of Nelson Animal Rescue will give a presentation right after the production for the student audience.
“Janet will bring a big, black snake with her in a tank. She will do a presentation about the importance of snakes in our environment, and cautions the children about the dangers of poisoneous snakes that we do have in this part of Kentucky,” Stephens said.
According to Stephens, Jenny Richards, a Naturalist from Shawnee State Park, will give a presentation immediately following the public performance.
“Jenny will be with us on Saturday, and she has two snakes that she’s going to bring with her,” Stephens said.
Stephens said questions from the audience will be entertained after Nelson and Richards’s presentations.
She said Stuart’s writings are an integral part of the local heritage.
“We enjoy doing this to promote community pride, his writings are full of local culture and heritage that is still a part of our local culture, and we want to preserve that, and promote that,” Stephens said.
The public performance of Old Ben will be Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013, at 7:30 p.m. at the John P. Stephens Cultural Arts Center in Raceland-Worthington High School, cost for admission is $3.
The student cast members include:
Eli Raby, grade seven at Russell Middle School
Aaron Stephens, grade five at Russell McDowell Intermediate School
Miranda Hutchinson, a junior at Raceland-Worthington High School
Nathanael Chaney, a senior at Raceland-Worthington High School
Hannah Holbrook, a sophomore at East Carter High School
Aryssa Damron, s senior at Paul G. Blazer High School
Alycen Hurst, grade one, at Russell Primary School
Kendall Staton, grade five at Russell McDowell Intermediate School
Rachel Bentley, grade three at Russell Primary School
Adult cast members:
Levi Ausmus, 2011 Raceland-Worthington High School graduate.
Sam Butler, retired teacher and administrator from Ashland Independent Schools.
Production team members:
Brittany Hall, Tonja McCloud, Rhett Pennell, Aryssa Damron, Levi Ausmus
Portia Williams may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 286 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Portia on Twitter @PortiaWillPDT.