AFPP Mini Production: An Impossible Combination

Aug 23–28
Barter Stage II

By George Pate

Think Stephen King meets Southern Gothic as we dive into the life of Abetta Asbury, a woman with an unusual gift. Abetta enters into the minds of others and releases their suffering through a process her family calls "bleeding." This rare ability comes with an age-old warning, but will she ignore it to save her bother Harlan as he slips into decline? Caught between tantalizing dreams and family obligations“An Impossible Combination” examines the unpredictable consequences of trying to mold the world into a happier place. In the words of Mark Twain, “Sanity and happiness are an impossible combination.”

This mini production is presented by Barter Theatre's Appalachian Festival of Plays and Playwrights

Learn about the exclusive picnic with playwright George Pate by Clicking Here.

Director's Notes

“What an ass you are!” he said. “Are you so unobservant as not to have found out that sanity and happiness are an impossible combination? No sane man can be happy, for to him life is real, and he sees what a fearful thing it is. Only the mad can be happy, and not many of those. The few that imagine themselves as kings or gods are happy, the rest are no happier than the sane. Of course, no man is entirely in his right mind at any time, but I have been referring to the extreme cases.” -Mark Twain, The Mysterious Stranger

We all want happiness. For ourselves and those we care about. “Will this make me happy?” “Do whatever makes you happy.” “, liberty, and the pursuit
of happiness.” But what if the only way to be truly happy is to be insane? That’s what Mark Twain argues. In order to be happy, we must put aside the reality of life, the
fear of death. We must be out of our minds. How far would you go to make yourself and those you love happy? What risks would you take, what consequences would you face, to bring someone out of sadness? In this play, four people are intent on making themselves and each other happy. And intent is a powerful thing, especially when combined with ancient Appalachian magic. Abetta, against every warning, breaks the rules and uses this ancient magic on her brother, with the intent of releasing his sadness and making him happier. What could go wrong? After all, if sanity and happiness really are an impossible combination, aren’t we all striving for insanity?

Barrett Guyton, Director

Cast & Credits


Abetta: Angie Fisher
Ethan: Justin Tyler Lewis
Bella: Carrie Smith Lewis
Harlan: Nicholas Piper


Director: Barrett Guyton
Set Designer: Derek Smith
Costume Designer: Alice Sullivan
Lighting Designer: Erin Kellam
Sound Designer: Tony Angelini

Special Thanks to This Year's AFPP Sponsors: Dunkin' Donuts and Roadrunner Markets