History will come alive at the Jenny Wiley Amphitheatre this weekend, starring several local actors, including Prestonsburg Mayor Les Stapleton.
Performances will open on Friday for the play, “Bloodsong: The Story of the Hatfields & McCoys,” at the amphitheatre, located at Jenny Wiley State Resort Park in Prestonsburg.
The city leased the theatre from the state last year and collaborated with several local organizations to host events there.
This performance is possible with collaboration between Prestonsburg Tourism, the City of Prestonsburg, Mountain Arts Center, the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Office’s Pike County Fine Arts Program, the Hatfield & McCoy Arts Council and Artists Collaborative Theatre.
Stapleton said he is playing the part of a judge in the play. He’s been preparing for the role for about a week.
“What we’re trying to do is we’re trying to grow a community theater here,” Stapleton said. “It’s going to take a few years for us to do that, and we know that, and they’ve partnered with us to do productions at the amphitheatre. Well, due to some scheduling stuff, they had some male parts that were not available, the actors weren’t. So, I got my script on Monday and I’m studying every chance I get.”
Stapleton admitted he is a bit nervous about performing on stage. On Wednesday, he joked that his wife Karen knows the script better than he does.
“I’m going to be so nervous about getting nervous that I’ll get nervous,” he said.
The play, written by Chelsea Marcantel, follows the lives of members of the Hatfield and McCoy families, who instigated a bloody family feud that caught national attention. It highlights the murder of Asa Harmon McCoy during the Civil War and other aspects of the feud, including the hanging of Ellison “Cotton Top” Mounts in 1890.
Stapleton encourages the public to turn out to watch the play, one of several plays that have been hosted at the amphitheatre this summer.
“It’s community theater. It’s the collaboration of five different entities coming together to make this happen, to give people another option in Eastern Kentucky,” Stapleton said. “It’s not just Prestonsburg. It’s Eastern Kentucky. It’s a regional thing.”
He continued, “What I will say is it’s the story of the Hatfields and McCoys as told from as honest a view as you could have, and some of more experienced actors with it are outstanding actors. Me, I’ll be green, but they’re outstanding.”
The play will be performed at the amphitheatre at 8:15 p.m. on Friday, July 12, Friday, July 19 and Tuesday, July 23. It will also be performed at 3 p.m. on Sunday, July 14 and Sunday, July 21.
Tickets are $12, general admission.
For tickets, visit, macarts.com, or the Jenny Wiley Ampthitheatre on Facebook.