In the spring of 2016, Higher Ground cast members Devyn Creech and Alexia Ault created several podcasts of interviews with Higher Ground cast members and re-creations of scenes from Higher Ground plays. The podcast, called Shew Buddy! was also broadcast on local community radio station WMMT in Whitesburg. Shew Buddy! which ran for x episodes, and was one of a number of new types of projects taken on by Higher Ground during 2016.
In 2016, Higher Ground was a co-sponsor of the first Hurricane Gap Community Performance Institute. The Hurricane Gap Community Performance Institute is a place for community theater practitioners, community members, artists, teachers, and students to share skills and experiences, learn more about using theater to tell community stories, and build a network of collaborators and friends. Several past Higher Ground collaborators, including Robert Martin, Kevin Iega Jeff, and Richard Geer worked with community performance projects from Owsley, Clay, and Letcher counties, among others on workshops in acting, playwriting, lighting design, and other elements of theater production.
Higher Ground 6: Life is Like a Vapor was written by Higher Ground community members in the spring and summer of 2016 specifically for performance at Hurricane Gap. Life is Like a Vapor was by far the shortest Higher Ground at its premiere, and is largely comic, but with serious undertones. The play depicts the life of a woman named Sweet Betty, and takes place at her funeral. The five-times married Betty is presented largely as a comic figure, but one steeped in traditional healing, modern understanding of biology, a staggering capacity for love and teaching, and, as is revealed in Life is Like a Vapor, a history as a survivor of domestic violence. Betty’s ability to combine traditional engagement with the natural world, an understanding of science and how to teach it, and a brilliant sense of timing allowed Higher Ground to engage with difficult issues in a way that allows a broad community cross-section to absorb and reflect on the issues. Betty, who began as a character in Higher Ground 5:Find A Way, has had many loves in her life. She has been a folk healer, entrepreneur, sex educator, and keeper of mountain wisdom generally. She experienced many near-death experiences before her demise, and in Life Is Like A Vapor, community members recount many of them. The fifty-minute play also incorporates the work of local musicians and singers.
Life Is Like A Vaporwas the first of three Higher Ground plays that were shorter and designed for specific audiences and occasions. In addition to the performance at Hurricane Gap, Higher Ground performed Vaporat the Portal Restaurant in Harlan as part of Harlan County’s participation in the Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange and at the Kingdom Come Swappin’ Meetin’ in Cumberland in October 2016. Higher Ground’s final performance of Life Is Like A Vaporwas at the 2017 Appalachian Studies conference in Blacksburg, Virginia, just months before the premiere of its seventh play, Needle Work.
Chapter 1: 2001-2005. A Lot of Listening & A Grant Proposal.
Chapter 2: 2005-2008. Higher Ground Is Born.
Chapter 3: 2008-2009. Playing With Fire
Chapter 4: 2010-2011. Talking Dirt
Chapter 5: 2012-2013. Introduction to the Foglights years
Chapter 6: Spring 2013. Solving For X
Chapter 7: Summer 2013. Summer of Fog
Chapter 8: Fall 2013. Foglights Performed
Chapter 9: 2014 -2015. Find A Way
Chapter 10: 2015 & 2017. It's Good 2 Be Young In The Mountains 1 & 2
Chapter 11: 2016-2017. Hurricane Gap, Shew Buddy!, & Life Is Like A Vapor.
Chapter 12: 2017 -2018. Needle Work & the Southeast Kentucky Revitalization Project
Chapter 13: 2019. Perfect Buckets
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