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September 04, 2018

A feature essay from the Fall 2018 issue.

I first devoured Robert Gipe’s books and plays because I wanted to understand Appalachia. I was searching for deeper insights than the victim-blaming bootstrap narrative espoused in J. D. Vance’s best-selling book, Hillbilly Elegy—and where else but one of Gipe’s plays would you see convicted felons on a stage, acting right beside probation officers, teachers, and recovery coaches, all of them already bonded in their mutual need to talk about the hard problems around them?