Horn in the West
Historically, mountain people's ideal of freedom is as precious as their name and as heavy as a bullet.
Hence, the 61st “Horn in the West” outdoor drama, as director of public relations Virginia Roseman said, “begins and ends with gunshot bangs.”
This production of the Southern Appalachian Historical Association’s perennial drama shows from Friday, June 15, through Saturday, Aug. 11, with gates open at 7:30 p.m. and the show beginning at 8 p.m.
Prior, at 5:30 p.m., the Hickory Ridge Homestead Living History Museum will be open to visitors at the price of any donation.
“It's here for folks to better understand the play,” Roseman said. “The museum is real time. The stage is artistic.”
The drama, one of 42 by author Kermit Hunter, fits properly in Boone because of the associated family name.
Daniel Boone tamed paths through the area that he forged in rebellion, misfortune, battle and settlement.
Born a Puritan in Pennsylvania, he frequently excused himself from his conventional surroundings, first as a wagoner and blacksmith, and later as an expeditionary.
His crusades through North Carolina edged through his clearing of the Cumberland Gap to other areas in Kentucky.
“He realized he wanted the wilderness life,” Roseman said. “But he had to keep running a little further from his background with every expedition.”
Gathering in the empty pockets that Daniel Boone (portrayed by Joseph Watson) had cleared were families of settlers, one influential in “Horn” being British physician Dr. Gregory Stuart (Ryan Gentry).
He came to study smallpox in the North Carolina colony with his wife, Martha (Suzanna Ziko), and their teenage son, Jack (Jon Meyer).
“Horn in the West” begins in May of 1771, during the clamorous Battle of Alamance, after which British authorities take hostage protagonist Stuart and the group of dissenting “Regulators.”
The play is framed around Stuart's fight back and the fortitude of calloused Patriots.
Warmth of universal familial love sings out, contrasting but strengthening the struggles.
“In the drama is a conflict in Chief Attakulla's relationship with his son and Dr. Stuart's relationship with Jack,” Roseman said. “This play truly does have something for everyone, because no matter our differences, the most important issues of life are the same.”
The play's closing Battle of King's Mountain, the most definitive battle during the American Revolutionary War, revives a band of 1,000 ragtag Patriots overcoming 1,000 tradition-enslaving Loyalists after years of suppression.
The battle insured our 13 colonies instead of the alternative 10 and credited the settlers with brash fighting skill, changing the course of the revolution in the South.
“That is the biggest part of American History and what we should retain from it,” Roseman said. “If freedom is at stake, it is worth any battle and any sacrifice.”
This year's 61st production of “Horn” is unique as it casts the Rev. Sims (Darrell King) as the only principal member remaining from last year's cast.
Historical alterations to costumes continue to evolve.
Daniel Boone is again outfitted, not in a coonskin cap, but an accurate felt hat made of beaver skin.
“Dragging Canoe wears a flattened metal plate and a red coat with ripped sleeves,” Roseman said. “This is what he would have worn as a trophy after killing an enemy.” She said that though dramatic elements, such as the fire hoop and cannon, are not historical, SAHA felt allowed to use artistic license.
The outdoor production is one of 13 in North Carolina and 103 in the US.
“Outdoor dramas are a dying breed,” Roseman said.
She encourages travel through the outdoor drama timeline that can be viewed online at http://outdoordrama.unc.edu.
For more information, call the “Horn in the West” office at (828) 264-2120 or visit http://www.horninthewest.com. Tickets cost $18 for adults and $9 for children, although a variety of discounts are also available.