© 2022 West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Telling West Virginia's Story
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Plays, Films and TV Shows That Confront the Appalachian Region’s Complex Realities

tijah-and-taylor.jpg
June Leffler
/
WVPB
Director Tijah Bumgarner and director of photography Taylor Napier on the set of "Her Hope Haven".

The story of Appalachia can’t be summarized in one book, one article or one movie. Our region goes beyond just ill-considered stereotypes.

This week on Inside Appalachia, we’ll learn about people who are digging beneath the surface, telling authentic stories about life in Appalachia. From women who are writing a new TV show about the realities of overcoming addiction and finding recovery, to a community theater company in Harlan County, Kentucky, that produced a play called “Shift Change.” It confronts racism, and neighbors who stand on opposite sides of politics. In this episode we’ll also hear from writers, playwrights, filmmakers and storytellers who confront the complexities of life here in Appalachia. They share why we should be proud of these complexities, and be willing to learn something new about Appalachia — even those of us who live here.

In This Episode:

Her Hope Haven

bream-her-hope-haven.jpg
June Leffler/ WVPB
/
"Her Hope Haven" was filmed in Charleston at Bream Memorial Presbyterian Church.

Earlier this year, we aired a story that featured a young woman named Ashley Ellis. Ellis passed away a few weeks ago. In this episode, we’ll listen back to a story about a project she helped write -- a TV show called “Her Hope Haven,” which explores the opioid crisis from the point of view of people who are inside the recovery process.

It’s a fictional series, but the stories are based on the real-life experiences of those who’ve come through the process themselves, including Ellis herself.

Recovery from addiction is possible. For help, please call the free and confidential treatment referral hotline (1-800-662-HELP) or visit findtreatment.gov.

Higher Ground

A local theater company in Harlan County, Kentucky called “Higher Ground” decided to make a play about 2020. For the cast, that meant coming to terms with a difficult year — from COVID-19 to police violence. When the ensemble decided to cover the summer’s Black Lives Matter protests, a lot of feelings came up. The Ohio Valley ReSource’s Katie Myers spoke with cast members and creators on how they reckoned with race, religion and community in their play called “Shift Change.”

Twilight In Hazard

Alan Maimon is an award-winning journalist who lived in and reported on Eastern Kentucky in the early 2000’s. He recently published a book, called “Twilight in Hazard: An Appalachian Reckoning,” which looks at how the past and current events might play into the future of the region. Co-host Caitlin Tan talked with Maimon about the book.

 

Dopesick 

Beth Macy_creditTomLandon.jpg
Tom Landon
/
Beth Macy is a long-time journalist of Roanoke, Virginia and the author of Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors and the Drug Company that Addicted America.

“Dopesick” is a new series streaming on Hulu. It details the rise of prescription opioids, namely Oxycontin, and the wreckage it has caused in Appalachia and across the nation. June Leffler spoke with Beth Macy, who helped create the show and wrote the book it is based on.

Holler

When Nicole Riegel was growing up in Appalachian Ohio, she couldn’t wait to get out. As an adult writer and film director, the place drew her back and she found herself re-connecting with her town and community in unexpected ways. The result is a film called “Holler.” Katie Myers spoke with the filmmaker about leaving, and returning to, your small hometown.

W.Va.’s Growing Elder Population

The Mountain State is home to a lot of older folks. More than 20 percent of the state’s population is over 65 and we are seeing signs of a crisis in health care. While our average age is going up, the number of younger workers is going down. And that’s a challenge for senior care facilities and home care companies.

Goshen Road

Proudfootcover4.jpg
Courtesy photo
/

Author Bonnie Proudfoot began working on her new novel “Goshen Road” nearly 25 years ago, but she said she had to get older before she had the confidence to finish it. The story follows two teenage sisters growing up in the 60s in West Virginia. Proudfoot sat down with West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Eric Douglas to talk about the novel. Proudfoot’s “Goshen Road” is now available. It was longlisted for the 2021 PEN/Hemingway Award for Best Debut Novel.

Gun Violence

The year 2021 is the deadliest for gun violence in America — and this is playing out in West Virginia’s capitol city. A group recently gathered at a local park in downtown Charleston, West Virginia, to raise awareness about the problem. Kyle Vass was there and brought back this story.

Inside Appalachia Is Hiring

We're looking for a part-time associate producer. A full job description can be found here. Email resume and cover letters to kdodd@wvpublic.org and insideappalachia@wvpublic.org.

Our theme music is by Matt Jackfert. Other music in this episode was provided by _____

Roxy Todd is our producer. Our executive producer is Andrea Billups. Kelley Libby is our editor. Our audio mixer is Patrick Stephens. Zander Aloi also helped produce this episode.

You can find us on Twitter @InAppalachia. You can also send us an email to InsideAppalachia@wvpublic dot org.

Loading...

Caitlin Tan is working as Inside Appalachia’s folklife reporter, as part of a Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies grant. The goal of her reporting is to help engage a new generation in Appalachian folklife and culture.
Mason Adams grew up near the Virginia/West Virginia border in Clifton Forge, Virginia. He’s covered mountain communities and the issues affecting them since 2001. His work has appeared in Southerly, Daily Yonder, 100 Days in Appalachia, Mother Jones, Huffington Post and elsewhere. He lives with his family and a small herd of goats in Floyd County, Virginia. Follow him on Twitter @MasonAtoms.
Roxy Todd joined West Virginia Public Broadcasting in 2014 and works as the producer for Inside Appalachia. She's the recipient of a National Edward R. Murrow Award for "Excellence in Video," for a story about the demands small farmers face in West Virginia. She also won a National PMJA Award For "Best Feature" for her story about the history of John Denver's song "Country Roads." You can reach her at rtodd@wvpublic.org.