(Julia Jacobs’s article appeared in The New York Times, 2/18; via Pam Green; photo: Devin Yalkin for The New York Times.)
A new documentary play at the Public Theater weaves together interviews from people whose lives were forever changed by the 2010 mining disaster in West Virginia.
Six years after the explosion that killed 29 coal miners in West Virginia, family members and co-workers of the dead weren’t answering phone calls from the New York playwright.
That writer, Jessica Blank, wanted to know if they would be interested in sharing their stories for the play she was creating with her husband and frequent collaborator, Erik Jensen. The couple are best known for “The Exonerated,” based on interviews with former death-row prisoners who were wrongfully convicted.
For their latest documentary project, the Public Theater commissioned them to write about the mining tragedy that sent reporters flooding into the tiny rural community of Montcoal, W.Va., on April 5, 2010. A decade later, the play would tell the stories of the miners and their loved ones after the rest of the country stopped listening.