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Venus & Vance: A Virtual Appalachian Christmas Carol

December 10, 2020 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

This two-act piece begins with a viewing of the annual Appalachian Christmas Carol, which follows the story of Venus–an enslaved woman that lived on the Vance plantation–and concludes with a panel discussion on the complicated legacy of Zebulon Vance, our collective histories, how we interpret them, and the role of museums and historic sites.

The program will run for three nights, Saturday, December 5th, Thursday, December 10th, and Saturday, December 12th. This live program will begin each evening at 7:00 pm on Zoom and run until 8:30 pm. Watch with the entire family from the comfort of your own home. The Saturday shows are $12.00. Thursday showing is “pay what you can.”  Pre-registration is required, and space is limited. 

Register for Thursday, December 10

Act I – An Appalachian Christmas Carol – The Vance Birthplace will once again partner with the American Myth Center to present one of the greatest Christmas stories ever told, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Through the use of shadow theatre and moving panoramas the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future lead Zebulon in an exploration of the life of Venus, a woman enslaved by the Vances. For approximately 25 minutes, visitors will go on an illuminating journey through some of the history of the Vance Birthplace, and conclude by virtually stepping into a 1790s slave dwelling.

Act II – It’s Not a White Christmas – The second “act” will feature a panel discussion with historians and community members about how museums and historic sites interpret slavery. Speakers will be asked to reflect on the first act and think about the complicated legacy of Zebulon Vance and lives of the enslaved people. How can historic sites and museums be a tool to cultivate conversation and continue to grow and broaden the narrative? This discussion will focus on Appalachian history, but also serve as a conduit for healing dialogue, and sparking continued discussion around compassion and how we can create empathy.

Pre-Visit Materials – Upon registering, guests will receive a virtual “program” giving background on the story of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, the history behind the characters portrayed in the play and background on the art form known as “crankies.”
 Panel Discussion – It’s Not a White Christmas: Reclaiming Historical Narratives and Creating Empathy
Note: Speakers will vary from night to night. Questions from the audience will be submitted through the Q&A window on Zoom, grouped by the moderator, and presented to the speakers. We will make every effort to get to as many questions as possible before 8:30.

Thursday, December 10th 

  • Vera Cecelski, Site Manager, Historic Stagville State Historic Site
  • Cortina Jenelle Caldwell, Founder & Creative Director, Artists Designing Evolution, LLC (adéPROJECT) and Program Coordinator for WNC Diversity Engagement Coalition.


December 10, 2020
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
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We welcome submission of Western North Carolina events focused on our heritage themes of mountain music, crafts, foodways, outdoors and Cherokee culture. Please submit two weeks in advance.

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