The Coal Mines

Developing New Plays from Local Writers

Burning Coal Theatre supports local writers and playwrights by developing new plays of artists connected to North Carolina

Next staged reading is SHOEBOX MEMOIRS, a new play by Sonia Usatch-Kuhn. See below for more information.


A staged reading of a new play by Sonia Usatch-Kuhn

Directed by Nathalie Ray

November 10th, 2023 at 7:00 PM

LOCATION:  Burning Coal Theatre Company, 224 Polk Street, Raleigh, NC 27604

TICKET PRICE:  Free of charge (no RSVP required) 

CAST:   Gus Allen, Lynda Clark, Ann Forsthoefel, Celeste Hinnant, David Klionsky, Brook North, Julie Oliver, Mary Rowland, Heather Shore, Andrea Amthor Twiss, Karen Morgan Williams

While searching for bargains, the lives of eleven strangers intersect at a Saturday morning garage sale. They come upon treasures reminiscent of a time when they experienced one of life’s common denominators—loss. Some discover that what was lost is sometimes found.

SONIA USATCH-KUHN is the author of three poetry chapter books, two short stories, a
commissioned memoir and a paper published in the Journal of Poetry Therapy titled, Making a Case for the Use of Nontraditional
Courses in Educating Medical Students on Issues of Mental Illness, based on the course Healing and Madness, she was invited to create and taught for ten years at Stony Brook Medical School.

The inspiration for Shoebox Memoirs came from shared anecdotes and personal incidents in her life.

This event is free and open to the public, no prior reservation required. The staged reading will run 1 hr 15 mins with a 20-minute talk-back to follow. Please join us to give your feedback to this new, locally-written play.
This play contains discussions of mental health and death.
The first staged reading for SHOEBOX MEMOIRS took place at the Fuquay-Varina Arts Center on June 26, 2022. Since then, significant edits have been made based on audience feedback. This will be the second staged reading, requested by the writer to continue polishing her script.

Show up to support new work and give your feedback! No registration or ticket required.

Burning Coal Theatre Company is committed to developing new plays and theatre practices by artists connected to the Tar Heel State.* In producing new and innovative theatre, The Coal Mines development process focuses on five objectives:

-To promote and celebrate playwriting throughout North Carolina
-To include Southern voices within the national, cultural conversation
-To represent Raleigh as an inferno for the incubation and development of new work
-To encourage equity in the theatre field by welcoming underrepresented artists and encouraging both artists and audiences of all backgrounds
-To introduce local audiences to emerging plays and playwrights

Burning Coal Theatre Company is recognized for bringing innovative theatre home to Raleigh-Durham, as well as to other cities such as New York City and London. Burning Coal is committed to the exchange between regional and global performance communities.

Since 2000, Burning Coal has produced staged readings or fully mounted productions of new plays by writers connected to the Tar Heel State such as Samm-Art Williams, Angus MacLachlan and Alex Finlayson.   The Coal Mines laboratory offers playwrights the opportunity to hear how new writing sounds when spoken by professional level actors–and gives audiences a peek at the new ideas and forms being developed by tomorrow’s writers.

*The Coal Mines accepts unsolicited scripts from writers with a substantial connection to North Carolina.

Please include:

One hard copy of your script (The Coal Mines considers one script per playwright at a time.)
Cover letter with your name, contact info, and prior or anticipated productions of your script

If you wish for your script to be returned, please include a SASE

Mail these materials to

Burning Coal Theatre Company
Attn: The Coal Mines
224 Polk Street
Raleigh, NC 27604

In addition, please send an electronic copy of your script (PDF preferred) to and let us know the hard copy is on the way.

The Coal Mines will offer selected scripts a staged reading by professional level actors in the theatre at the historic Murphey School, and host the playwright’s stay for the duration of their reading. Performances are free and open to the public.