Opera House features ‘Cameos of Civil War Women’

ENT. Opera House web

Seldom-told stories of the women of the American Civil War will come to life on the stage of the Pocahontas County Opera House during a special matinee performance on Sunday, October 5, at 2 p.m.

As part of the ongoing observation of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War singer-song writer Judith Avers and storyteller John Burt present a program drawn from the journals, letters and remembrances of women who lived it.

“A Grand Convulsion in Society: Cameos of Civil War Women in Song and Story” represent some of the lesser-known women and their many roles in the Civil War: socialites, spies, even women passing as men and fighting in the war.

The afternoon will be filled with surprises and an entirely different way to look at this pivotal chapter of American history–a time one Washington, D.C., matron described as “a grand convulsion in society.”

Born and raised in southwest Kansas, far removed from any sort of modern music scene, Judith Avers was spoon-fed country classics like Willie Nelson, Hank Williams and Johnny Cash. Her earliest memory of music is Patsy Cline melting in her ears. Merle Haggard, Box Car Willie, Loretta Lynn, and Tammy Wynette were also familiar voices coming out of the 8-track player at her grandmother’s house next door.

Like Woody Guthrie, one of her heroes, Avers has traveled around the United States, from Colorado and Kentucky to West Virginia and Massachusetts before settling in Pittsburgh with her physician wife. A versatile poet, songwriter and singer, Avers has recorded six solo albums. Last year she participated in the “Real Women/ Real Songs” project by writing a song a week for most of a year. Avers is part of the Early Mays trio, which is now preparing to release its second album.

Her website is judith avers.com

A Pittsburgh native, John Burt studied history at Duquesne University and law at the University of Pittsburgh. In addition to his law practice Burt spent several years teaching at the secondary and collegiate levels, including a decade teaching a course he created at Carlow College [now University] entitled “American Women and the Law.” From January 1998 to January 2004, Burt served as part of the Commonwealth Speakers on Pennsylvania History and Culture through the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, lecturing on 19th century Pennsylvanians and the struggle against slavery and for women’s rights and speaking to more than 100 historical societies and other groups. He made an appearance as one of the consultants and “talking heads” for Lisa Gensheimer’s award-winning film about the Underground Railroad in northwestern Pennsylvania, Safe Harbor.

His history blog is musingwithclio.wordpress.com

Tickets are $8. Children 17 and under are admitted free of charge. Tickets are available in advance at pocahontasoperahouse.org and at the Fourth Avenue Gallery in Marlinton.

The Pocahontas County Opera House is located at 818 Third Avenue in Marlinton. Performances at the Opera House are informal, family-friendly and open to all. The entrance and main seating are accessible to persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities are encouraged to attend; special accommodations can be arranged upon request by calling 304-799-6645.

The Opera House Performance Series is presented with financial assistance through a grant from the West Virginia Division of Culture and History and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts. Support is also provided by Pocahontas County Drama, Fairs and Festivals, the Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Pendleton Community Bank, the Law Office of Roger D. Forman and Brightside Acres.

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