Barter to Premiere 'THE DRYAD,' Begin. 3/8

Barter to Premiere 'THE DRYAD,' Begin. 3/8

Family, tradition, and these mountains are what the people of Appalachia proudly hold dear, and they permeate the legends of the region that is rich with storytelling. Barter Theatre knows the importance of sharing those stories, and with the world premiere of its new play, Barter presents a captivating tale that celebrates the resilience of the Appalachian people and their culture. "The Dryad: An Appalachian Tale" opens March 8 at Barter's Stage II.

"The Dryad: An Appalachian Tale," a play by Carol Wright Krause, began its development at Barter last year, winning top honors at the 2013 Appalachian Festival of Plays and Playwrights. It is a story about connection and hope, in which an Appalachian family discovers the best in themselves as they stand up against tough circumstances, aided by something mysterious and a little bit magical. The enchantingly hopeful story resonated with festival-goers, and this spring Barter will mount the world premiere performance.

"It is part of our goal here at Barter to celebrate the writings about this area we live in," said Bivins, director of "The Dryad: An Appalachian Tale." "When we do produce an Appalachian play, we feel like we're giving something to the people of this area and whoever else might be passing through. It's a celebration of the lives and stories of the people in this part of the world."

In "The Dryad: An Appalachian Tale," Lena returns to her father's home after leaving her no-good husband, and discovers that circumstances are even harder than she realized. The Great Depression has hit the Appalachian Mountains hard and the chestnut trees that have sustained the community are dying off one by one. When it seems like all hope is lost, a mysterious young girl enters Lena's life. She knows things that she should have no way of knowing and seems determined to help Lena turn things around.

In folklore, a dryad is a tree nymph who will reward anyone who frees her with a kiss that grants special gifts. Could it be a dryad who comes to Lena's aid, or, as director Mary Lucy Bivins asked, "Why can't it be a fellow human being who has that power as well?"

The play is written by Carol Wright Krause, a Missouri native who proudly claims Appalachian history. For her, the importance of telling this story was its message of strength and hope, one that she found compelling in the context of the region's history. "You find hope on two levels," said Krause. "One is the human revival that happens. It reminds us of everyone in our families that have fostered long life, happiness and independence simply by the work, from digging with their hands in the dirt to whatever you had to do to keep your people happy and healthy."

Barter also gratefully acknowledges the sponsors whose contributions help bring this uniquely Appalachian story to the stage: the Bristol Herald-Courier and media sponsors Wytheville Enterprise and ABC-19. Season sponsors Alpha Natural Resources, Eastman Credit Union, Food City, Mountain States Health Alliance and The United Company help make all of Barter Theatre's programming possible.

"The Dryad" begins March 8, 2014 at Barter's Stage II. For show details, dates, Theatre Matters information and information about the rest of Barter Theatre's spring lineup, visit BarterTheatre.com or call the box office at (276) 628-3991.

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