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Jean Battlo

Jean Battlo

Jean Battlo is a writer of rare and exceptional talent, one with a deep appreciation and love of her home state and a gift for translating those feelings into the written word. The youngest child of Italian immigrants, drawn to Appalachia to work in the coal mines, Jean Battlo was born and raised in Kimball, a small town in McDowell County, West Virginia. She attended Marshall University, earning both a B.A. and an M.A. and began her literary career as a poet, publishing two award-winning volumes of poetry – Bonsai and Modern Haiku. She first attempted playwriting in response to a request from her community—people who wanted to form a local theatre group but could not afford the royalties charged by publishing houses for producing their materials. Though she had not even thought of writing plays before, Battlo agreed to try. Like most writers, Battlo started with what she knew—her people, her culture, her world. Her first plays, A Highly Successful West Virginia Business and Caves, are examples of the pride that is at the heart of mountain culture and the lengths mountaineers will go to survive and overcome the challenges of poor economic conditions. Similar characters appear in other Battlo works, including The Little Theater’s Performance of “Hamlet” and The Morning Glory Tree. Battlo considers her work an ongoing effort to overcome and dispel the negative stereotypes about West Virginians and Appalachians in the mainstream American media – “These people are not caricatures, not ‘mammy Yokums, not hillbilly stereotypes. These are people I live with. They’re real. They watch CNN. They know what’s going on in the world. They just haven’t lost touch with their roots.” Word spread quickly about the new playwright. In 1987, Battlo left her job with the McDowell County school system to spend two years as a Writer-in-Residence with the Beckley-based Theater West Virginia. While with the program, Battlo wrote two more plays – Frog Songs and Shakespeare: Love in Stages (co-authored by Alma Bennett). Scenes from both plays were included in Linda Pinnell’s Getting Started in Theater (National Textbook Company, 1996). Battlo later turned her playwriting focus to historical dramas. #8, a play about a Jewish family just prior to the beginning of Hitler’s Holocaust, was selected as a finalist by Camel-Sea in 1990, as well as being optioned by Off-Broadway Stage Arts and being listed as a finalist in the Eugene O’Neill National Playwright’s Competition. In 1992, she was commissioned to write Between Two Worlds, which was written to celebrate the centennial of the Buck’s birth. Jean Battlo continues to live and work in McDowell County, West Virginia. She serves as the McArts artistic director as well as working with Theater West Virginia to teach workshops on playwriting. In 1998, Battlo established Globe Stage, a replica of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, in McDowell County. In additional to her many plays, Battlo has also published prose works of fiction and non-fiction, including a collection of Appalachian horror stories (Appalachian Gothic Tales).


Samuel French Titles by Jean Battlo