By Joseph Pratt
A book edited by a local educator and writer is getting new treatment, as the Shawnee State Theatre Department expertly breathes life into it, bringing the characters from the page to the stage.
Last spring, Neil Carpathios, Shawnee State University (SSU) professor of English, published his book through Ohio University Press, which is entitled “Every River on Earth: Writing from Appalachian Ohio.” The book is a collected anthology of pieces selected by Carpathios himself, which were submitted by regional writers, both established and up-and-coming. Each piece concerns Appalachian living in one way or another.
The book is broken into four categories: Family and Folks, The Land, The Grind, and Home and Away, each of which explores different aspects of living in Appalachia Ohio.
The book has had much success since its release. Educational institutions are enlisting it as required reading and Ohio University even had positive comments to make about the publication.
Ohio University Press stated that the written pieces work together beautifully to capture what it means to live, to love, and to die in this particular slice of Appalachia. They also claim the writing is accessible and often emotionally raw; the book invites all types of readers and conveys a profound appreciation of the region’s character.
Carpathios said that the pieces in the book tell the story of Appalachia on all fronts, from the nature that wraps itself around everything to the war on drugs that wraps everything in an even tighter hold. It also features a lot of family and cultural traditions that are celebrated in the area.
Carpathios explained that, after many signings and public meets, he was left wanting to show off the stories in his book even further. He began working with Shawnee’s John Huston to plan the play.
“This event is unique. In a way, we are introducing the book to the local community with this production,” Carpathios explained. “Traditional releases don’t feature a production. Writers do often read their work, you know, in a more standard, conventional method. The production will be more animated, artistic, and different; this new form is exciting for us and we are excited to see the result.”
Carpathios hasn’t been given a look at the show yet, but he says that he is looking forward to seeing what the department does with his book.
“I think many of the stories and poems will translate well to the stage,” Carpathios said. “John Huston and I met over the summer and discussed which pieces would work better on stage will receive new life on stage. He then took liberties with them and made them better suited for the stage. It is all very new to me, but exciting.”
Huston was unavailable for comment on the production.
“Every River on Earth” will open curtain for a free performance on October 16 at 7 p.m. in the Kahl Theatre of the Shawnee State University.
Reach Joseph Pratt at 740-353-3101, ext. 1932, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.