By Nicholas Walker
A semi-autobiographical play about the life of activist and songwriter Florence Reece called “Which Side Are You On?” will debut this weekend at Pellissippi State Community College.
The production will be performed April 15, 16, 22 and 23 at 7:30 p.m. and April 17 and 24 at 2 p.m. at the Hardin Valley campus.
The play was written by Pellissippi English professor Edward Francisco. Francisco has been Pellissippi’s Writer-in-Residence for 10 years, and he has taught at the school for 26 years.
- The title is inspired by a protest song written by Reece, who was the daughter and wife of coal miners in Harlan County, Ky.
- The song grew in popularity after being performed by Pete Seeger.
- Reece was inspired to write the song when she was 12 years old after her family was shot at by thugs hired by a mining company.
- Little is known about Reece’s life, and Francisco assembled the story from journals and news on the Harlan County War.
- Francisco was inspired by his own family history of mine workers and alludes to this in the play.