Resting Place: Burning Coal Theatre Brings the Stories of Oakwood Cemetery to Life

Catch these original plays the first weekend in October
by Addie Ladner | photography by Joshua Steadman

Each autumn, Burning Coal Theatre Company brings the dead back to life through a series of short plays. Presented within the historic Oakwood Cemetery, the original works — most by local playwrights — offer dramatic interpretations of key moments in the lives of a few of the deceased buried there. From tragic to heroic to comical, these reimagining highlight impact they had on the formation of our Capital City. And since the plays are all presented within the cemetery, it’s just possible that one of their ghosts may be in the audience…

$10 for students, $20 for adults; 701 Oakwood Ave, October 1 – 3;  6:30 pm and Sunday at 2 pm.  

Here’s a rundown of the individual plays:

Chatting with J. D. Lewis By Renèe Nixon

Chatting with J. D. Lewis follows the story of Taylor, a Senior at Shaw University. After struggling to write a school paper, she turns to the Oakwood Cemetery where she meets one of her idols. Together, they write Taylor’s paper and uncover some interesting history in the process. Content Warning: Death, Language

Point of No Return By Brook North

When Deanne Woodward decides to go on a boat trip to celebrate her birthday, she never expected how the trip would end. Brook North’s Point of No Return follows this harrowing series of events and asks the question “what happens when you reach the Point of No Return?” Content Warning: Death, Perilous Situations. 

Radiant Edges of the Earth By Tamara Kissane

Einer Rasmussen is a wild and adventurous teen who dreams of seeing the world. Rene Rasmussen is his older sister and worries about Einer’s rebellious nature. The siblings butt heads in Radiant Edges of the Earth by Tamara Kissane. Content Warning: Mentions of Death

Ellen Z. McGrew  By Courtney Pisano

Sam is working on a research project and stumbles into the North Carolina Department of Archives and History. There, they meet a fascinating woman who makes her experience of being a woman in WWII come alive in Courtney Pisano’s Ellen Z. McGrew. Content Warning: Mentions of War

Mary Ann Scherr: The Space Age  By Lydia Sbityakov

It’s 1969, the day after the moon landing and Mary Ann Scherr is at home working peacefully in her studio. Suddenly, she’s interrupted by her daughter and the doorbell. In Mary Ann Scherr: The Space Age, discover who’s at the door and the conversations that follow.

I Wasn’t Any Hero By Ken Walsh

I Wasn’t Any Hero follows Bobby and Billy Crocker who are reunited in Oakwood Cemetery. The brothers discuss their contrasting views of life during WWII and what defines a good life. Author Ken Walsh proves family bonds can last more than any lifetime. Content Warning: Mentions of Death and War