Lunch with the Arts: Heather Henson and Liz Orndorff
Lunch with the Arts: Heather Henson & Elizabeth Orndorff
Wednesday, May 17 | 12pm
$7 at the door
First came the play, then the children’s book! Death by Darkness, an award-winning mystery by local playwright Elizabeth Orndorff, was first produced at Pioneer Playhouse in 2008, and is back by popular demand this summer. Set in 1842 in Mammoth Cave, the play is fictional, but one of the main characters is based on the real life slave guide, Stephen Bishop. Heather Henson, daughter of Playhouse founder Eben Henson, was so inspired by the character of Bishop that she decided to do more research, which resulted in her latest children’s book, Lift Your Light a Little Higher: The Story of Stephen Bishop, Slave-Explorer, published in September 2016. Liz and Heather will discuss the inspiration and research behind both the play and the book, and will talk about the upcoming 2017 revival.
Heather Henson was born and raised in Danville, and grew up at Pioneer Playhouse, Kentucky’s oldest outdoor theatre, which her father founded in 1950 and her family continues to operate. She is the author of many award-winning books for young readers, including That Book Woman, which won the prestigious Christopher Medal and the Great Lakes Book Award, and was a finalist for both the Kentucky Bluegrass Award and the Texas Bluebonnet Award. Her latest picture book, Lift Your Light a Little Higher: The Story of Stephen Bishop, Slave-Explorer was illustrated by Caldecott-Honor winner Bryan Collier, and was recently named a Bank Street Best Book of 2016. Heather lives on a farm near Danville with her husband and three children.
Elizabeth Orndorff worked in advertising and public relations before turning to fiction and playwriting. Her play Death by Darkness won the International Mystery Writers Festival in 2007 and the Southern Playwrights Competition in 2008. Her play Aidan’s Gift won the Kentucky Theatre Association’s playwriting award in 2009 and the Silverthorne Theatre new works award in 2015. In 2009 she won a Wurlitzer Foundation Fellowship to live and write plays in Taos, New Mexico. She recently retired from teaching in the Voices Inside playwriting classes conducted by Pioneer Playhouse at Northpoint prison. In 2012 she participated in an Artist Exchange sponsored by the Sister Cities Commission and spent a month in Northern Ireland, teaching playwriting and acting. In 2016 she co-founded the new Scarlet Cup Theater. She lives in Danville with her husband, Robert.