Next week the theatre department will present “Ballad Hunter,” a play by Jenny Laird about three generations of Appalachian women in the 1930s. The show will be playing on Nov. 12-14 and 19-21 at 7:30 p.m.
Directed by Karen Bohm Barker, professor of theatre and speech, this play is deeper and more emotional than many of the plays the theatre department presents, but members of the cast think students will be able to relate to it nonetheless.
“‘Ballad Hunter’ has a lot to do with family and relationships in general,” senior Susan Schoenrock said. “Relationships are so complex in this play, and I think that’s true in everyone’s life.”
Schoenrock plays the role of Gussie, whose daughter, Lotta, is played by junior Greta Floding and whose mother, Hetty, is played by sophomore Kylie Steinbach. The story begins one day when Gussie enchants a stranger on the mountain with her beautiful voice, and he, a recorder of local music who is known as the ballad hunter, in turn enchants her.
The story then skips to when Lotta is nearly a grown woman, and her curiosity has grown about who her father was. As the three women discuss this and share wisdom between the generations, they work to find food for each day and think about ways they can help their junk-dealer neighbor, Buzzy, played by senior Brady Huffman.
They also are concerned about Cecil, played by junior Dan Laird, as he tries to push them to allow electricity to be brought to the mountain.
Barker said that she enjoys actors and characters who share certain personality traits.
“There are some parts that I am very connected to Gussie,” Schoenrock said. “She is compassionate and loves her family. She’s a feeling character, and I’m a feeling person, so I think that’s how we relate.”
Laird agreed that he and his character share personality traits.
“My character is a very social person,” Laid said. Cecil works for the Rural Electrification Association, and he is working to get all of the people in the area to sign onto a cooperative so they can put up power lines. “He basically goes out and meets new people every day. I can see that being like me,” Laird said. “We don’t get into awkward situations very often.”
Both Laird and Schoenrock think that students will relate well to the story.
“When I first read it, I understood it right away,” Laird said. “The message from it and what happens is very powerful on its own.”