What’s that mean? How could it translate into a Thriller, Horror, or a Musical?
There is a great deal of interest in Picher. What it was. What it was like and what’s happening now there.
All are questions we receive at the LEAD Agency. Throughout our history as an organization, we advocated for the residents, her children, the homeowners, the land owners for justice. Environmental and Economic justice. The townspeople nor the town got either.
We recognized the danger, from the toxic exposure but also to the vast spaces missing beneath the homes, businesses, roads and that Soupy Suman’s Miners Reunion Park. The water wasn’t pretty for so many years, but because it was only “discolored and smelled bad” they were given no alternatives. But the air, the dust from the fines in the chat piles and what was beneath what was hauled off to be sold. But also, what was in the children. The children’s loads ended up in the mothers they grew up to be who later bore children who were born ladened with those harmful metals that made so many people and businesses rich.
You can love a place that is dangerous. Many people still love that place as evidenced by the annual returns during the Christmas Parade and the Picher Reunion six months apart.
But even if not present at either, the heart is still in the place and the love beats.
People who never saw it or walked into a home there have come to love Picher. We know some of those folks. Some are history buffs, some environmental activists, others who are talented in the arts. Mary Sue Price, the playwright of the trilogy, Chat Piles was on the agenda at the Native American event REIGN last weekend.
Drake Descant, a musician living in Massachusetts, started writing a horror story as an historical novel based in Picher and our homegrown writer, Vanessa Lillie has just launched a nationwide book tour with her thriller Blood Sisters based in and around Picher, with a stop right here in Chapters with an interview by owner and book lover, Chuck Neal.
KOAM was just in the area interviewing people who lived in or are still living in Picher. Remember it was a voluntary buy-out, never a mandatory evacuation that it may have needed to be to truly have been protective of the health or safety of her residents. Each who lived there, went to school or worked in that former mining town lays claim and is claimed in the genre it has become to the creative arts.
But there is ANOTHER story. And that is The Picher Project, a musical and how we plan to bring it and the cast and musicians here in the future. As they say, it was born here, though it has been produced and discovered as an off-Broadway production in New York City as a musical.
According to a review by Scotty Bennett in Musicals, Off-Broadway it is, “A musical based on real-life events that are not only a part of Oklahoma's history but also of the social and industrial history of the United States.”
“A show of this size needs a much larger stage…The Picher Project is a terrific show.” Which leads us to our quest to get the whole shebang here to one of our two great stages: the Coleman Beautiful Theatre and/or the vast stage at NEO A&M College. LEAD tried to rush them here in October mid-production in New York, and quickly learned the complications. But we are beginning anew and have found a great ally with the Chief of the Eastern Shawnee, Glenna Wallace who is rallying the tribes to assist in bringing the cast, crew and musicians here in the coming months. We will gather ever more supporters and it won’t be long until you, too will be humming the tunes with the words that hit true and close to home.
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim