—from Lee Smith's "Fair and Tender Ladies"
Originally co-adapted and directed by Mark Hunter, this spunky mountain woman's story takes us in a flashback through a life of “livin’ on love.” With a sensuous nature and a flair for storytelling, she paints a vivid picture of 20th Century revivals, mine disasters, rural electrification, the Depression, and three wars.
Theatrical excitement! A lifetime's worth of sass, whoop, hurt, and reflection
—Off Broadway, Village Voice
Both funny and heartbreaking—Variety
A rare and heartfelt performance that pays tribute to the women of Appalachia, and to the heroism of strugglers everywhere. —Herbert Mitgang of the New York Times
It was the #1 best-loved event of the festival! It was magic. —Silas House
Barbara IS Ivy Rowe! I am her most avid fan, and Jeff is a genius as musical accompanist. —Lee Smith
“I used to be a scandal… Now I’m an institution.” This is my slogan for the 25 years of performing “Ivy Rowe.” It may be 700 times—I’ve lost count. Lee Smith has asked, “Don’t you ever get tired of doing this?” No. Never. Beginning with Mark Hunter's direction in Tampa, New York, and Edinburgh, it’s been a thrill each time. Its special magic both grounds and uplifts me; if I miss too many months, I get restless. And in hard times I remember Ivy’s advice: “You gotta keep on keepin’ on.”
Ivy Rowe, the feisty born-with-the century mountain woman, is probably Lee Smith's most beloved character, drawn from her most beloved book. (Lee knows of at least eleven babies named “Ivy.”) We relish Ivy's stand against the coal company’s bulldozer, defending her home place.
“When you’re ruint, like I am, it frees you up somehow!” Ivy declares. Publisher’s Weekly has called her a woman of bewitching appeal and endearing faults: bright, with a poet's eye and soul; spunky, impetuous, sensual and proud…