Novelist and humanities scholar Alison Moore and singer/songwriter Phil Lancaster have combined audio-visual elements, historical fiction and musical ballads into a collaborative performance that brings the Orphan Train movement, a largely unknown chapter in American history, to public awareness. The multi-media presentation, Riders on the Orphan Train, tells the story of the 250,000 orphans and unwanted children who were put on trains in New York between 1854 and 1929 and sent all over the United States to be given away. The presentation is comprised of original music, an audio-visual presentation of archival photographs and interviews with two surviving orphan train riders (a man who came to Berryville, Ark. and a woman who came to Greenville, Texas) and is followed by a dramatic recitation from the new novel "Riders on the Orphan Train" by Alison Moore.
After the presentation, there is an informal discussion led by Moore and Lancaster about the origin and demise of the largest child migration in history and the part it played in the formation of the American Dream. The human struggle to belong, to define one's self in the place we call home is exemplified in the stories of these children that have shaped all of our lives. The one-hour performance will conclude with dialog between presenters and audience on the historical and social significance of the Orphan Trains. The presenters will take questions from the audience and will invite relatives and acquaintances of Orphan Train Riders to share their stories.
Moore and Lancaster will perform at Coffeyville Community College on April 9th as part of the Humanities Project. The public is invited to the 10:30 a.m. Tuesday humanities performances at CCC. The performances are free and held in the Spencer/Rounds Performing Arts Theatre.
For more information about the humanities project at CCC, please call 620-251-7700, ext. 2166.