Set in Southern West Virginia in the 1990s when the last coal mines were closing, Business as Usual
is a hilarious slice of human comedy based on economic hardship.
Tom Woolwine, who entered the coal mining business at sixteen, is out of work after the closing of his mine in rural Gary, West Virginia. Despite facing poverty and an uncertain future, Tom does not want a severance check, nor welfare, nor a handout; he wants a job. He and his son Joey have tried everything, but to no avail, leaving Tom to wonder “just how far a man will go when he has nowhere to go.” Gran answers that. A true mountain mama with the spirit of “grits,” she advises the family: “There’s one business that never closes…I’m talking about every funeral home from here to the moon. Now, in the old days, folks didn’t go to any such. No, a neighboring friend with good feeling towards you would come and begin to work on the body of your loved one and…” Then, the human comedy begins. This hilarious and touching play from West Virginian writer Jean Battlo is appropriate for all theatre groups.