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Coal Country


"The Devil Put the Coal in the Ground" From COAL COUNTRY | The Public Theater
Anspacher Theater

World Premiere
Written by Jessica Blank & Erik Jensen 
Original Music by Steve Earle
Directed by Jessica Blank

In 2010, the Upper Big Branch mine explosion in West Virginia killed 29 men, and tore a hole in the lives of countless others.

In this riveting, emotionally stunning new work based on first-person accounts by survivors and family members, Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen, award-winning writers of The Exonerated, and three-time Grammy Award-winning country/folk legend Steve Earle, dig deep into the lives and loss of the most deadly mining disaster in recent U.S. history.

Jessica Blank directs this haunting world premiere that gives voice to those yet unheard, and shines a piercing light on the deadly forces of greed and the enduring power of love.


Image of Mary Bacon

Mary Bacon

(Patti). The Public: Giant. Broadway: Rock ‘n’ Roll, Arcadia. Off-Broadway: Nothing Gold Can Stay (Partial Comfort); The Tribute Artist, Harrison, TX, Little Women, Happy Now? (Primary Stages); Becky Shaw (Second Stage); Women Without Men (Mint). Regional: Dorset Theatre Festival, HVSF, Hartford Stage, Denver Center, Seattle Rep, McCarter, The Old Globe, Williamstown, Long Wharf, Yale Rep. Upcoming film: Lost Girls. TV: “Blue Bloods,” “The Blacklist,” “The Mist,” “Madam Secretary,” “Elementary,” “Law & Order: SVU,” “Boardwalk Empire,” “The Good Wife,” “Mildred Pierce.” 

Image of Amelia Campbell

Amelia Campbell

(Mindi). The Public: Philip Roth in Khartoum (Labyrinth); Wasp and Other Plays. Broadway: Our Country’s Good (Tony nomination), A Small Family Business, Translations, The Herbal Bed, Waiting in the Wings, A Streetcar Named Desire. Off-Broadway: Taking Care of Baby (MTC); The Exonerated (Culture Project); The Misanthrope (NYTW); Tryst (The Promenade); Love, Janis (Village Theater). Regional: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Night of the Iguana, Desire Under the Elms. Film: Sender (upcoming); Leaves of Grass. TV: “The OA,” “Mindhunter,” “Bull.”

Image of Michael Gaston

Michael Gaston

(Goose). The Public: The Taming of the Shrew, Othello, Henry V, The Cripple of Inishmaan. Broadway: Lucky Guy, A Day in the Death of Joe Egg. Off-Broadway: Playwrights Horizons, MTC, CSC. Regional: Folger Theatre, Arena Stage, Long Wharf. Film: Spenser Confidential, Togo, A Mouthful of Air, First Reformed, Land of Steady Habits, Bridge of Spies. TV: “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “The Leftovers,” “The Good Lord Bird,” “Emma,” “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “Jack Ryan,” “Power,” “Law & Order: SVU.”

Image of Ezra Knight

Ezra Knight

(Roosevelt). The Public: Julius Caesar, King Lear. Broadway: Mean Girls, Pretty Woman (original cast), Cymbeline. Off-Broadway: Toni Stone, The Merchant of Venice, Oroonoko, Coriolanus. Regional: Ivo van Hove’s A View From the Bridge, Agamemnon and His Daughters, The Tempest, The Darker Face of the Earth. Film: The Abandoned, ADDicted, Lost Cat Corona, Symposium. TV: “Murphy Brown,” “Daredevil” (season three), “Quantico,” “The Blacklist,” “Orange Is the New Black,” “The Following,” “Blue Bloods,” “Law & Order.”

Image of Thomas Kopache

Thomas Kopache

(Gary). The Public: Coriolanus (2019 and 1988). Broadway: Our Town, Orpheus Descending. Off-Broadway: The Wood (Rattlestick), The Danube (American Place), Farmyard (Perry Street). Regional: The Winter’s Tale (Yale Rep), Of Mice and Men (Pasadena Playhouse). Film: No Country For Old Men, Catch Me If You Can, Zodiac. TV: “Blue Bloods,” “The Last O.G.,” “House of Cards,” “Madam Secretary.”

Image of Michael Laurence

Michael Laurence

(Tommy). Broadway: Talk Radio, Desire Under the Elms. Off-Broadway: playwright and per-former of Hamlet in Bed and Krapp, 39 (Drama Desk nomination, London/Dublin/Edinburgh); Appropriate (Signature); Opus & Morini Strad (Primary Stages); Poi-son (Origin); Havel (PTP); The Few (Rattlestick). Regional: John Proctor in The Crucible (Hartford), Starbuck in Rain-maker (Arena), Good People (Huntington). International: Genet’s Splendid’s (La Colline, Paris). TV: “Shades of Blue,” “The Blacklist,” “Damages,” “The Heart, She Holler,” “The Good Wife,” “Law & Order: SVU,” “Elementary,” “Person of Interest.”

Image of Deirdre Madigan

Deirdre Madigan

(Judy). Broadway: Hillary and Clinton, Sweat, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Off-Broadway: Exit Strategy, Major Crimes. Regional: Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Other Desert Cities (Bucks County Playhouse); Exit Strategy (Philadelphia Theatre Co.); and a nightingale sang (Westport Country Playhouse); Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England (Two River The-ater); The Little Foxes, God of Carnage (Pittsburgh Public). TV: “Chicago Med,” “New Amsterdam,” “FBI,” “The OA,” “Daredevil,” all versions of “Law & Order.”

Image of Melinda Tanner

Melinda Tanner

(Judge Berger, u/s Judy). Broadway: The Robber Bridegroom. Off-Broadway: Godspell, The Sea. National tours: My Fair Lady, Godspell (also Italy). Metropolitan Opera: as actor, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, Samson et Dalila. Selected regional: Mark Taper Forum, Sacramento Music Circus, Goodspeed Opera House, Fulton, Lyric, Florida Stage. TV: “Almost Family,” “Law & Order: SVU,” “Law & Order: CI,” “The Affair,” “Daredevil,” “The Inspectors,” “Nunsense” (pilot), “The House Arrest Rooneys” (pilot), “Lights Out,” “Manhattan Love Story.” Film: “Things Heard and Seen” (Netflix), Revelations, Out and About.


Jessica Blank
Playwright & Director
Erik Jensen
Steve Earle
Music Director
Richard Hoover
Scenic Design
Jessica Jahn
Costume Design
David Lander
Lighting Design
Darron L West
Sound Design
Adesola Osakalumi
Movement Director
Janelle Caso
Production Stage Manager
Joan Wyatt
Assistant Stage Manager
Jason Loughlin
Joe Jung
Musician Substitute


Critics' Pick! A narrative of timeless exploitation, resistance and tragedy.

- The New York Times
Coal Country is political theater of the most lucid, urgent and necessary kind, given soaring emotional heft by Earle's songs and his superbly evocative string-picking.

- The Hollywood Reporter
****! Gorgeously Authentic.

- TimeOut New York


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