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Events to include storytelling program, staged reading of Appalachian literature July 15-19

ISSUED: 7 July 2016
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Shepherd University, the Contemporary American Theater Festival (CATF), and National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar for Teachers, “Voices from the Misty Mountains, Literature and Culture of Appalachia,” are sponsoring events July 15-19 with two Appalachian writers and a storyteller that are free and open to the public.

On Friday, July 15, at 4 p.m. in the Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education auditorium, CATF actors and friends will present a staged reading of Kentucky writer Silas House’s new play-in-progress, “Family of Strangers.” The story is about a family coming to terms with a child’s coming into her own sexuality and the power-dynamics that swirl around other family matters.

“This is an amazing and poignant family drama on a subject that is dear to Silas’s heart and an important contemporary issue,” said Dr. Sylvia Bailey Shurbutt, seminar director and coordinator for Shepherd’s Appalachian studies program. “Silas’s writing is breathtaking.”

On Sunday, July 17, at 7 p.m., award-winning storyteller Adam Booth, adjunct music professor, will present “An Evening of Storytelling from the Mountains” in the Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education auditorium.

And on Tuesday, July 19, at 6:30 p.m. in the Center for Contemporary Arts II Marinoff Theater, there will be a staged reading of Frank X Walker’s “The Unghosting of Medgar Evers.” Walker, who will be on campus working with the NEH summer seminar, was Kentucky’s Poet Laureate in 2013-14 and won the 2014 NAACP Image Award for outstanding literary work in poetry. He was also the keynote speaker at the annual international Appalachian Studies Association Conference that took place at Shepherd in March.

“This dramatic reading is intensely powerful, bringing to life the Civil Rights era and connecting this troubling time with our own,” Shurbutt said.

House and Walker will be at the staged readings and will participate in classroom experiences associated with the 2016 NEH summer seminar. For more information, contact Shurbutt at

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