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Author from Casey Co., KY in new Horse Cave Theatre book

Betty Peterson's work in book which also has work by Billy Edd Wheeler, Sallie Bingham, Jim Wayne Miller, Liz Bussey Fentress, Nancy Gall-Clayton, Joe Terrence Gray, John Howell, Ron Mielech, Jim Peyton, Larry Pike and Frank Schaefer.

By David Cazalet, Jr., Somerset Community College Director of Public Relations

Seventeen brand-new plays were produced during Warren Hammack's 25 years of leadership as artistic director at Horse Cave Theatre. Louisville publisher MotesBooks has collected 14 of those scripts in a new 620-page volume, including a play by Somerset Community College English Professor Betty Peterson.

Peterson grew up in Casey County and attended Liberty High School, then attended Berea Foundation School for one year before moving to Somerset and graduating from Somerset High School. She is an SCC alumnus who went on to earn a B.A. degree "With High Distinction" from the University of Kentucky. She also holds an M.A. degree in English from UK with additional graduate work at Berea College. Peterson has been an employee of SCC since 1986.

While she has published non-fiction and fiction both regionally and nationally over the years, she came late to playwriting. She has written five plays that include a one-act play, two full-length original plays, and two adaptations. Four of the plays have seen both professional and/or amateur productions.

The book also includes work by renowned writers such as Billy Edd Wheeler, Sallie Bingham and the late Jim Wayne Miller, a former Kentucky poet laureate.

World Premieres From Horse Cave will be available November 1, 2009, to local and online booksellers everywhere. It has been selected as a feature at the November 7, 2009, Kentucky Book Fair in Frankfort, where Hammack, co-editor Liz Bussey Fentress, and other playwrights will sign books at the state's largest literary event.Besides Peterson, Wheeler, Bingham, Miller and Fentress, the collection also includes scripts by Nancy Gall-Clayton, Joe Terrence Gray, John Howell, Ron Mielech, Jim Peyton, Larry Pike and Frank Schaefer.

"The book documents an exciting and prolific period in Kentucky's literary, artistic and theatrical history," said Kate Larken, MotesBooks publisher and founder. "Stories in this anthology will appeal both to the universal reader and to anyone who appreciates and supports dramatic literature from page to stage and back again."

More than a simple collection of scripts, each playwright has contributed notes about their experiences, firsthand observances, and commentaries about the theatre's Kentucky Voices playwriting development program. Numerous historic photographs and original cast listings from each of the premieres are also included.

Hammack, who penned the book's Preface, and Fentress, who wrote the Afterword, view the anthology as "monument to the spirit of the Kentucky Voices project during its lifetime at Horse Cave." Also included is an insightful Introduction by another principal, Pamela White, former associate director at Horse Cave Theatre (now called Kentucky Repertory Theatre).

"Warren, who is both a Kentucky native and a well-known force in the theatre world at large, knew from experience that doing shows in rotating repertory is what made the production of these Kentucky Voices world premieres possible," Fentress notes. "The unique nature of what was happening at Horse Cave during those years made it possible for little-known playwrights to see their work produced alongside work by Arthur Miller, Eugene O'Neill, Thornton Wilder and Samuel Beckett."

A play had but two requirements to be eligible for Kentucky Voices consideration: it had to be full length and it had to be about Kentucky or written by a Kentuckian, or both. Hammack points out that while some of the settings of the plays aren't specific to the state, all are connected by virtue of their authorship or subject matter. Most are Kentucky-related because of their use of rich language, accents and characters.Playwrights whose work appears in World Premieres From Horse Cave capture moments in time from their chosen, changing corners of Kentucky. "It's a valuable gift they have given us," Hammack says.

This story was posted on 2009-10-24 11:51:16
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