Theater In the Park is proud to present “Above The Laws of God” at the Herrin Civic Center on Friday, June 21st at 7:30 PM and Saturday, June 22nd at 2:00 PM and 7:30 PM.
When Earl Halbe, a resident of Charleston Illinois, read in the newspaper that two Eastern Illinois University professors had discovered the location of the potter’s field where the victims of the Herrin Massacre of 1922 were buried, he immediately decided to write a play about it.
Not knowing anything about the massacre other than the story he read in the local paper, Halbe
began his research, reading Bloody Williamson: A Chapter in American Lawlessness by Paul M.
Angel, Herrin Massacre, by Scott Doody, Herrin: The Brief History of an Infamous American City,
by John Griswold, and The Work of Our Fathers, by James Ballowe.
Ballowe’s work in particular provided insight about the events leading up to the massacre,
including the tensions the strike had created between the mine owners, the local families who
relied upon coal for their livelihood and identity, the union which brought them security and
support, and the non-union workers and guards who had been brought in to keep the mines
partially operational. He wrote “The killers had been deceived by false promises made by the
mine’s absentee owner, and were especially incensed by the brutal tactics of his armed guards.
They believed their livelihood and their lives were threatened. In their collective memory was the
exemplary fate of miners and families in Ludlow, Colorado, on April 1, 1914, when
strikebreaking guards and the state militia massacred women and children at a John D.
Rockefeller-owned mine. And although local miners might have belonged to a church and a
political party, their first allegiance was to the union that had given them a sense of security and
identity in an industry that was a natural enemy of both.”
Halbe came up with the title Above The Laws of God from the St. Louis Times editorial page
that opined in June of 1922, “Shall unionism be set above the laws of God, and of man?”
Above The Laws of God premiered at the Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site in Lerna, Illinois, in November, 2018.
The Herrin Civic Center will present three performances of Above The Laws of God on the 97th
anniversary of the event.
The play does contain mature content, so we ask that parents take into consideration the maturity of their child before bringing them to a showing.
Tickets will be available at the door or by request in advance for $10. Don’t miss this spectacular event!