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Ballad Hunter

Ballad Hunter

By Jenny Laird

Product Code: BB2000

  • Full-length Play
  • Drama
  • Cast size: 2m., 3w. (No gender flexibility or doubling possibilities.)

Rights and availability
This title can be licensed and sold throughout Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the United States.

* Please note the royalty rate listed is the minimum royalty rate per performance. The actual royalty rate will be determined upon completion of a royalty application.

$9.95 /script

Min. Royalty Rate: $85/perf

In stock


1937, rural Appalachia.

Three generations of women struggle to survive on an isolated mountain when the arrival of a representative from the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) sparks a slow unraveling of family secrets tied to the mountain's tragic past. Years ago, an unassuming "ballad hunter" arrived on the mountain to record the traditional ballads of England and Ireland—preserved for generations through the oral traditions of Appalachia. There he met Gussie, a shy young woman with a stunning voice, singing to herself in the woods. In the course of a single afternoon, the two fell in love and consummated their rare and unusual connection. Promising to return, the ballad hunter left to collect more songs from the miners; that evening, however, a tragic explosion rocked the mine, killing nearly all of the men. Their wives and daughters blamed the tragedy on Gussie's mysterious ballad hunter, who arrived and disappeared on the very same day. Fifteen years later, Gussie, hollowed by lost love, is a midwife in the valley, feared and revered for her rumored powers. She lives a lonesome, stoic existence, tolerant of her cantankerous mother, Hetty, and deeply protective of her sweet, bright, unabashed daughter, Lotta—the offspring of her tryst with the ballad hunter. But history begins to repeat itself: Singing softly to herself in the woods, Lotta meets Cecil, a stranger to the mountain. A naive but confident young man who spouts socialism and touts the wonders of electricity, Cecil has bet his boss that he can get the five needed signatures from the stubborn mountain residents that will allow the REA to proceed with electrification. Hoping to alleviate her family's isolation, Lotta invites Cecil to dinner. But food is scarce on the mountain; desperate, Lotta convinces her "mangled" and mute neighbor, Buzzy, to kill his only rooster so that she may provide a proper meal for her guest. Through the course of a long afternoon, Cecil's presence triggers revelation and healing as the trio of women are forced to reckon with their secrets, their sorrow and with each other.


  • Status

    In stock

  • Type of Show Full-length Play
  • Product Code BB2000
  • Cast Size 5
  • Min. Royalty Rate $85/perf
  • Cost $9.95
  • Approx. Run Time 120 min


  • Target Audience High School | College and Adult
  • Performing Group High School | College Theatre | Community Theatre
  • Genre Drama
  • ISBN(13) 9781583422403
* Please note the royalty rate listed is the minimum royalty rate per performance. The actual royalty rate will be determined upon completion of a royalty application.

Media Reviews

"A deeply lyrical, emotionally varied and continually suprising new work... Laird's luminous writing gives Ballad Hunter both a sense of authenticity and the irresistible allure of a fairy tale and rare love story." -Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun-Times

"Beautifully real, showing both the joys and the hardships of life in the Appalachia of 1937...a lovely little gem of a play." -Las Vegas Review Journal

"Stock with curses, legends, music and memories, Ballad Hunter feels like a fable, but it's also a grounded story of three women trying to live down the mistakes of the past..." -L.A. Daily News

"Forges a myth of atonement and resurrection that holds us spellbound...each step of the journey is as riveting as its final revelation is satisfying." -Chicago Reader