Oral history is grist for McDonald County play | Local News

PINEVILLE, Mo. — Arrange McDonald County’s best-known storytellers in a circle, add an impressionable youngster, and you’ve got a rough approximation of “Snake County Stories.”

The play, which will be put on this summer by the McDonald County Historical Society, weaves oral histories collected by playwright Meredith Ludwig to tell the story of a cellphone-obsessed teenager who discovers her roots through the history of McDonald County.

In one typical exchange during the play, the teenager’s grandma makes a reference to the Civil War to the confused child.

“Were you around back then?” she asks.

“Lord no, child. I’m not that old,” Grandma replies. “You don’t know your history, do you?”

She provides plenty of history over the course of the play, including accounts of the violence that county residents faced during the Civil War.

One character tells a story — relayed to Ludwig by Jean Mosier Helm — of a family that was left with a pile of worthless Confederate money after trading with the South throughout the war.

Other characters speak wistfully of the county’s natural beauty, and of settlers who chose to stop their journeys when they came to the Elk River — formerly the Cow Skin River, according to the play — and live off the land.

Bill Mitchell, one of six people who auditioned for six parts on Thursday evening, said trying out is a cinch.

“They just handed us a page and said, ‘Start reading,’” he said.

People with all levels of experience are invited to participate, though Davies has gone to extra lengths to recruit musicians. Another round of auditions was held on Saturday.

The play will be performed as “readers theater,” meaning it is more about the ears than the eyes. The actors won’t wear costumes, and they will sit in one place as they speak their parts on Aug. 10-12 at Pineville…

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