Well, Kind Hearts, here, at long last, is a 4.5 minute clip from my play, "Nance Dude."(To enlarge the picture, simply click on the screen icon at the bottom of the screen right under the YouTube logo.) The actress is Elizabeth Westall, who has been performing the role for twelve years. It is, for whatever reason, the most popular work that I have. Since this clip is taken from the middle of the play, a bit of background might be useful. Nance Dude is a "real person" who was charged with the murder of her two-year-old granddaughter back around 1913. She was sentenced to 30 years of hard labor and was released after 15 years. She was 80 years old and came home to find that her own family rejected her. She ended up living in a one-room shack on Conley Creek in Jackson County. She remained a social outcast and was considered a witch by many of her neighbors. Her only companions were a pack of stray dogs that followed her. She supported herself by splitting kindling which she sold to "the Floridy folks." She died alone at the age of 104.
Over the years, people have come to believe that there were "mitigating circumstances" that were never brought to light about the murder. Nance had been forced out of the house where she was living with her daughter and told to "get rid of "Roberta," the two year-old-child ... the reason being that there were too many people living in the house. The old story about Nance says that she walked the roads of Haywood County for three days and was unable to find a home for the child. It was April and cold; the child was sick.
The story has become a legend in my region. Maurice Stanley's book, had a profound effect on this play. However, I grew up hearing the stories and often saw Nance walking along the roads in my region with a load of kindling on her back. (There is much more to Nance's story, including her love for a man named Dude Hannah.)