Ezell Offers Ballad of Healing for the Appalachian Community

Bob Martin as Ezell, Photo: William Major

For artists Bob Martin and Carrie Brunk, truth-telling through performance is a way to support communities, process trauma and reframe their stories in a way that is transformative and healing. That is the enormous undertaking of Ezell: Ballad of a Land Man, an environmental, cultural, and spiritual parable centering on the challenges of living in the foothills of Appalachia.

In the story, Ezell is one man among many seeking to make sense of the time, place, and condition in which we live. His choices, traumas, and ancestors intersect with themes of domination and resilience as he seeks to take advantage of an anticipated fracking boom. According to Carrie Brunk, Clear Creek Creative co-creator, community activist, facilitator, and transformative coach, Ezell is a piece of art that explores the complexities of today’s issues of climate change, indigenous erasure, and environmental extraction.

Ezell is for all of us, because we can see our shared humanity and the complexity that is inherent in issues surrounding trauma, displacement, and self-healing.

Ezell: Ballad of a Land Man blurs the lines between activism and real life, but it also conveys an underlying sense of optimism and collaboration. “Whatever revelations are brought up by Ezell, we hope you hold those questions of climate change, of colonialism and power struggle a little bit longer and make you think, wow, these characters are really complicated, or this path has given us a lot to think about,” said Clear Creek Creative Executive Producer Bob Martin. “We all need to do the work of healing and reframing… to create a future that we all can be in, despite and in spite of tremendous challenges.”

Today’s headlines are not lost on Martin and Brunk. Their work continues to be relevant and hold meaning, particularly for those communities devastated by poverty, climate change, and fracking. “This is art that matters and helps us make sense of what we’re going through as both a local and global community,” said Brunk. “Whether you are conservative or progressive, directly affected by fracking or not, Ezell is for all of us, because we can see our shared humanity and the complexity that is inherent in issues surrounding trauma, displacement, and self-healing.”

Full audience integration was important to Martin’s vision; in fact, Ezell takes art imitating life to a deeper level by having its performances outdoors in nature—with the stage resembling a series of treehouses and tarps—and culminating in a community feast. Clear Creek Creative and its partners also encourage audiences to get involved at the local level by directing their viewers to local grassroots efforts undertaking long-term climate change work.

Presented by Yale Schwarzman Center and the Yale School of Public Health in partnership with  Faultline Ensemble, Ezell will be performed outdoors at the Landscape Lab on Yale West Campus. Subscribe to our newsletter for updates.