A play that depicts the infamous Hatfield and McCoy feud opened at the Jenny Wiley Amphitheatre this past weekend.
“Bloodsong: The Story of the Hatfields and McCoys,” which opened on July 12 and continues this month, was voted by the legislature as Kentucky’s official play on the infamous feud.
“We pride ourselves in being the most historically accurate play of the feud that’s been produced and we take great love with our people,” said Jason Justice, who directs the play. “We want to show these as real human beings who lived and loved and died and fought — fought and died, I guess is a better order. But regardless of what happened in the feud, we want people to understand that these are real people who are making the best decisions they could. We come from these people, so we love them and we want to portray them as mountain people.”
The Pike County-based Hatfield & McCoy Arts Council commissioned the play from playwright Chelsea Marcantel, with help from a group of historians who researched the feud.
“I tell people every time we do it, I’ll have somebody come up and say, ‘I’m from the McCoys, I don’t think you did the McCoys right,’ and then I’ll have somebody from the Hatfields come up and say, ‘I’m from the Hatfields and I don’t think you did the Hatfields right,’” Justice said. “And that makes me know that we’re doing everybody right because it’s a real story that really happened and we’re very proud to let people see a little part of our heritage. It’s who we are.”
Justice said attendees can expect to have a good time when they watch the play.
“It’s a drama, but there’s laughter. There’s gunfire. There’s blood. There’s death. There’s happiness. There’s sadness. There’s joy. There’s life,” he said. “That’s what real life is.”
The play comes to Prestonsburg via a collaboration between the Hatfield & McCoy Arts Council, University of Kentucky Extension Office’s Pike Arts program, Artists Collaborative Theatre, Prestonsburg Tourism, the City of Prestonsburg and the Mountain Arts Center.
Prestonsburg Tourism Director Samantha West praised that partnership, pointing out that Prestonsburg Mayor Les Stapleton even volunteered to play a role.
“Seeing the full community come together on it has been really, really special,” West said.
The play starts with the murder of Asa Harmon McCoy in 1883 and continues with several stories about things that happened during the feud, including the hog trial that took place in Pike County in 1878, the marriage of Johnse Hatfield and Nancy McCoy in 1881, the Paw Paw tree incident in 1882, the New Year’s Massacre and, among other things, the hanging of Ellison “Cotton Top” Mounts in 1889.
Performances will continue this month with performances at 8:15 p.m. on Friday, July 19, Sunday, July 21, Tuesday, July 23 and Friday, July 26.
Tickets are $12 general admission and are available at the door or online at, macarts.com.
Justice said that officials are still searching for people who are interested in acting in the play.
“We’re always looking for new, new men and women to come out and join us,” he said. “So, if anyone wants to come out and join us, we’re still going to travel it back to McCarr, and put it on there. We’d love to have them. Love to have them.”
For more information, visit the Hatfield & McCoy Arts Council on Facebook.