Coal Free Future Project Presents 'Across the Stones of Fire' 6/4-13

As part of the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity, New York City's premiere eco-friendly theatre festival, the Coal Free Future Project will perform "4 1/2 Hours: Across the Stones of Fire, " a timely and groundbreaking multimedia theatre production that brings the frontline controversies of the coalfields to the New York City stage, on June 4-13 at the Gene Frankel Theatre, 24 Bond Street, Manhattan.

Adapted from Reckoning at Eagle Creek: The Secret Legacy of Coal in the Heartland, the nationally acclaimed new memoir and cultural history by Project member and author Jeff Biggers, "4 1/2 Hours: Across the Stones of Fire" draws from real-life experience on coal mining's dark legacy in our nation. The Coal Free Future Project is a theatre Production Company of actors, writers and filmmakers working with coalfield residents, citizens groups and environmental organizations toward a clean energy transition. Currently on a national tour, their show has been performed in theatrical venues in Chicago, San Francisco, Columbus, Louisville, Lexington and across the Midwest and South, and at various universities, including Yale.

Featuring over 35 full production shows at three venues in June, the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity is a month-long series aimed at bringing the theatre arts into community action and discussion. As part of the Festivity's mission to connect artists and audiences with diverse charitable organizations, a portion of the proceeds from "4 1/2 Hours: Across the Stones of Fire" will be donated to the Appalachian Community Fund. For more information, see: http://www.planetconnectionsfestivity.com/home
Directed by Stephanie Pistello, whose New Mummer Group theatre collective revived Tennessee Williams' first play on Alabama coal miners, "Candles to the Sun," at The Actors Theatre of Louisville in 2006, "4 1/2 Hours: Across the Stones of Fire" chronicles the attempts a young coal mining couple in a mountain community to come to grips with their conflicting fates, when their family's 150-year-old homestead is threatened by a planned mountaintop removal operation.

With a backdrop of film montages and historically-based satirical faux-mercials by filmmaker/actor Ben Evans, "4 1/2 Hours: Across the Stones of Fire" is a rare journey into the lives of those on the coalfield frontlines, and an entertaining, informative and illuminating theatrical production on the true cost of mountaintop removal and coal mining to our land and citizenry.

Background information and a trailer can be viewed at: www.coalfreefuture.org

Ticket information is at: http://www.planetconnectionsfestivity.com/shows/4-1-2-hours-across-the-stones-of-fire

ABOUT THE CAST:

Stephanie Pistello is an actress, theatre director, and the National Field Coordinator for Appalachian Voices in Washington, DC, working full-time on the national campaign to end mountaintop removal. Originally from the coalfields of Virginia and raised in Kentucky, her work draws from her long-time commitment to live music and theatre production, working as a producer, director and actress to create work that inspires social change and collaboration between urban and rural communities. As a performer, Stephanie has worked with Young Jean Lee's Theatre Company, Ann Bogart's Siti Company, and New Mummer Group Theatre Collective. Pistello directed the Kentucky premiere of Tennessee Williams' Candles to the Sun at Actors Theatre Of Louisville. The first full-length play by Williams, Candles to the Sun was a groundbreaking drama about coal miners Alabama in the 1920s-30s, and their attempts to unionize and defend the lives of their families.

Jeff Biggers is an actor/performance artist, an award-winning journalist, and the American Book Award-winning author of several books, including The United States of Appalachia, and Reckoning at Eagle Creek: The Secret Legacy of Coal in the Heartland (Nation/Basic Books), which takes readers on a journey into the secret history of coal-mining in American heartland. In the ruins of his family's strip-mined homestead in the Shawnee National Forest, Biggers unfolds a personal and breakthrough portrait of the largely overlooked human and environmental costs of our nation's dirty energy policy. For more info on Jeff, see: www.jeffbiggers.com

Ben Evans is an actor and filmmaker. Raised in Kansas and New Jersey, he graduated from Stanford University with a BS in engineering, then pursued a career in the performing arts in Los Angeles and New York City. Over the past decade, he has performed in film, television, and theater in LA, New York, Europe, and across the U.S. Ben co-founded YERT: Your Environmental Road Trip--a year-long, 50-state eco road trip documentary project exploring the landscape of America's unique approach to environmental sustainability. For more info on Ben and YERT, see: www.yert.com

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