Project Overview


Winner of the "Greener Planet Award" at the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity, 2010

Coal Free Future Project Theatre Show Staged at New York City's Premiere Eco-Theatre Festival!

Incorporated as a fiscally sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization, the Coal Free Future Project is a unique collaboration of award-winning American artists—writers, actors/theatre director, filmmakers and musicians—who have come together to combine their long-time experiences in the clean energy, anti-coal and climate justice movements to create performances and workshops that inform and inspire action around a simple but basic truth in our lives: It’s time to envision a coal free future and work toward clean energy independence.

Through original multimedia/performances that incorporate music, film, theater, literature and spoken word, the Project serves as a creative catalyst for dialogue and understanding of the growing impact of strip-mining, mountaintop removal and underground coal mining, climate change and renewable energy alternatives in our daily lives, our communities, our cultures, and our environments.

In an effort to draw attention to the national scandal of strip-mining and mountaintop removal mining, and the grave health impacts of coal mining and coal-fired plants, and the potentially catastrophic consequences of climate destabilization trigged by CO2 emissions, the Coal Free Future Project has launched a 20-state tour in 2010-2011 with performances of “Love, in the Time of Blasting," and "4 1/2 Hours: Across the Stones of Fire,” a multimedia production, and follow-up workshops with nonprofit citizen groups and environmental and student organizations on coal, mountaintop removal, climate change and clean energy options.

As part of the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity, the Coal Free Future Project enjoyed a successful run of our multimedia theatre show, "4 1/2 Hours: Across the Stones of Fire," on June 4-13, 2010, at the Gene Frankel Theatre in New York City.

As a preview of our productions, check out one of CFFP member Ben Evan's "clean coal" commercials, "Shawnee Hills Recreation":

Join our Facebook page for upcoming performances.

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Project Members

Meet the Coal Free Future Team.  Please scroll down to read all bios.

Jeff Biggers

Jeff Biggers is an actor/performance artist, an award-winning journalist, and the American Book Award-winning author of several books, including The United States of Appalachia, and the forthcoming, Reckoning at Eagle Creek: The Secret Legacy of Coal in the Heartland (Nation/Basic Books), which takes readers on a journey into the secret history of coal-mining in American heartland. In the ruins of his family’s strip-mined homestead in the Shawnee National Forest, Biggers unfolds a personal and breakthrough portrait of the largely overlooked human and environmental costs of our nation's dirty energy policy. Recovering the missing chapters in the American experience since the discovery of coal in Illinois in the 1600s, Reckoning at Eagle Creek is a revelatory chronicle of the entangled roots and machinations of the coal industry.

According to Jeff Goodell, author of Big Coal, “Nobody writes about Appalachia like Jeff Biggers. His voice is a swirl of history and memory, of fact and analysis, of hillbilly wisdom and journalistic outrage. Reckoning at Eagle Creek is bigger and brawnier than a memoir or cultural chronicle -- it's a passionate howl from the dark heart of American coal country."

A former aide to Sen. George McGovern in Washington, DC and to the Rev. William Sloane Coffin at Riverside Church in New York City, Biggers has been a long-time activist on civil rights and environmental issues. His stories have appeared on NPR and PRI, and in The Washington Post, CNN, The Nation, The Atlantic, and scores of newspapers. He blogs frequently for The Huffington Post.

Ben Evans

Ben Evans is an actor and filmmaker.  Raised in Kansas and New Jersey, he graduated from Stanford University with a BS in engineering, then pursued a career in the performing arts in Los Angeles and New York City. Over the past decade, he has performed in film, television, and theater in LA, New York, Europe, and across the U.S. In addition, Ben has worked for over a decade as an academic tutor and teacher both privately and for various educational companies, including The Princeton Review and Ivy West.  This past October, in partnership with the University of Louisville Center for Environmental Education, he produced the first annual Blugrass Bioneers Conference in Louisville, Kentucky--the southeast's regional edition of the national Bioneers Conference.

In late 2006, Ben co-founded YERT: Your Environmental Road Trip--a year-long, 50-state eco road trip documentary project exploring the landscape of America's unique approach to environmental sustainability.  From 7/4/07 - 7/4/08, the three-person YERT team scoured the country for groundbreaking environmental solutions and outrageous characters, all while putting themselves through a battery of eco-challenges throughout the year with a mixture of outrageous antics, provocative examples, and thoughtful reporting.  Ben created short films and online content for the project during the trip and is currently editing and co-directing/producing the feature-length documentary “YERT: The Film,” which will screen at theatres, campuses, and film festivals across the country starting in 2010.

Christa Faulkner

Christa Faulkner is a graphic designer and artist based in Louisville, KY.  She completed her Studio Arts degree at Eastern Kentucky University in 2001 and later completed Graduate studies in Expressive Therapies at the University Louisville in 2004.  Christa worked for several years as an Art Therapist and Freelance Graphic Designer, while developing her web programming skills through self-study.

In February 2009 Christa combined her background in art, design and social service to start building a design presence that focuses on using greener energy throughout the production of design and open source applications. Recently she was an Art Meets Activism Grant Recipient, awarded through The Kentucky Foundation for Women to produce billboards and a web presence promoting female artists and social awareness.

The joining of these experiences was a natural progression to collaborating with others who also share in the desire to preserve our environment and promote positive social change. Christa is very excited to contribute to the Coal Free Future Project through design, web programming and supporting the end of mountain top removal.

The Tour 2010

State of the Union Launch


Louisville: Feb. 4th @ 8pm

MeX Theatre, Kentucky Center for the Arts,

501 West Main Street
Louisville, KY

Visit our Facebook page for details:

Asheville: Feb. 5th @ 8pm

Asheville Community Theatre,

35 East Walnut Street
Asheville, NC

Visit our Facebook page for details:

Columbus: Feb. 6th @ 8pm

Shedd Theatre, Columbus Performing Arts Center,

549 Franklin Avenue
Columbus, OH

Visit our Facebook page for details:

East by Southeast Tour

DC: Feb. 9 @ 7pm

Feb. 10 @ 9pm

Bus Boys and Poets , 2021 14th St NW

Washington, DC

Pittsburgh: Feb. 11 @ 8pm

Union Project Great Hall, 801 North Negley Avenue

Pittsburgh, PA

Lexington: Feb. 12 @ 8pm

Feb. 13 @ 2pm & 8pm

Downtown Arts Center, 141 East Main Street

Lexington, KY

Yale University: Feb. 24 @ 8pm

The Whitney Humanities Center (auditorium)

Yale University, 53 Wall Street, New Haven, CT

West Coast Tour


San Francisco, CA:

March 13 @ 8pm,

March 14 @ 6pm

CELLspace, 2050 Bryant Street; San Francisco

Sponsored by Rainforest Action Network

To be announced: Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, Tucson, Phoenix,

Heartland Tour



March 19 @ 8pm,

March 20 @ 2pm

Columbia College Conway Center, 1104 S. Wabash, Chicago

Sponsored by Eco-Justice Collaborative, Sierra Club, Greenpeace, RAN, and other Chicago area organizations.

For more information:

Special Events

April 17th: 8pm

April 18th: 2pm

Mitchell Auditorium, Siegfried Hall,
Ohio University, Athens, Ohio
Free and open to the public

Sponsored by Sierra Student Coaliton, OU Beyond Coal, OU EarthMonth2010


Love, in the Time of Blasting

2010-11-27-Picture17.png Inspired by Reckoning at Eagle Creek: The Secret Legacy of Coal in the Heartland, “Love, in the Time of Blasting” is an original multimedia production that brings the audience to the frontlines of the coalfields and mountaintop removal crisis today. The play draws from real-life experience, and seeks to recover forgotten history in our nation’s legacy of coal mining.

Based at the home of Marie and Hovie, a young couple living in the mountain holler of Eagle Creek, the play chronicles their attempts to come to grips with their conflicting fates, when their family’s 150-year-old homestead is threatened by a planned mountaintop removal operation. As a strip miner himself, Hovie is determined to move his pregnant wife out of the country; as the last remaining member on her family’s homestead, Marie is torn by their agonizing fate, and the increasingly dangerous health conditions in the mining area.

Visited by Harlan, her mysterious neighbor, Marie learns the 150-year history of her holler and homestead, and the dramatic episodes of the residents to fight the relocation of Native Americans, stop slavery, work for union recognition and mining safety, and save the region from environmental destruction at the hands of outside coal companies and their relentless operations.

Written by Jeff Biggers, with music, and a backdrop of film montages and historically-based satirical faux-mercials by filmmaker/actor Ben Evans, “Love, in the Time of Blasting” is a rare journey into the lives of those on the coalfield frontlines, and an entertaining, informative and illuminating theatrical production on the true cost of mountaintop removal and coal mining to our land and citizenry.

Join Us

To make a tax deductible donation in support of the Coal Free Future Project and tour, please visit the Fractured Atlas website.

Working with citizens groups, environmental and student organizations, and coalfield communities, The Coal Free Future Project seeks to reach as wide and diverse an audience as possible, and in non-traditional performance venues, such as planetariums and local “found spaces”, in addition to theaters, recording studios and community centers. Interested groups, organizations and schools are invited to contact the Project for upcoming dates and performances or to schedule an event.

Contact Us

Online profiles


Broadway World, "Across the Stones of Fire" on Off Broadway

Huffington Post: Love, in the Time of Blasting

LEO Weekly: Activism on Stage

Herald-Leader: "Saudi Arabia of Coal" brings mountaintop removal to the stage

"Bravo CFFP! Your use of theater as a medium for raising MTR awareness, inspiring activism AND entertaining is nothing short of brilliantly creative and genuinely stirring. Keep up the good work!"--Sarah-Jane Poindexter, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Louisville

"A big thanks to the whole crew for bringing the show to New Haven, CT--especially in light of recent tragedies, telling the story from the miners' and mining families perspective is particularly powerful, relevant, and necessary as we think about coal and moving towards a coal-free future. Lead to interesting conversations around our campus. Happy to answer questions if anyone is considering bringing the show to her community!"--Kristin Tracz, Yale University

"In two riveting performances, the Coal Free Future Project brought the environmental tragedy and personal heartbreak of coal surface mining to audiences in Chicago this past March. Stephanie Pistello, Ben Evans and Jeff Biggers, each acting with a passion born out of experience and activism on the issue, deftly drew the audience into the personal struggle of a young couple torn between short-term promises of economic security and the devastation of a family heritage. At a time when Big Coal is promoting itself as the fuel of the future, this play was a stark reminder of the real costs of coal to society and to the planet. If the Coal Free Future Project comes to your city, don’t miss it!"--Lan Richart, Eco-Justice Collaborative, Chicago

"I just wanted to let you know how awesome it was, having the Coal Free Future Project out to Ohio University. Their multi-media play, "Welcome to the Saudi of Coal," was amazing: entertaining, educational, inspiring. One guy changed his major to Environmental Studies, because he was so moved by what he saw. We saw that Mountain Top Removal mining is a very human issue, and not just for trees and racoons. Thank you so much for your work and your passion."--Badger Johnson, Ohio University

"We were thrilled to have CFFP come to Yale this semester as part of our series of events educating on mountaintop removal mining. Jeff, Stephanie, and Ben took the issue out of books and statistics and brought it to life. The creativity of the project is inspiring - I hope to see them again in NYC!"--Laura Bozzi, Yale University