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Photo by Kathleen Spikes
Rachel Atkins and Sheila Kelly discuss "Page to Stage" for Treadwell Gold.

At Large In Ballard: Family Gold

By Peggy Sturdivant

After Sheila Kelly learned more about her family’s history in Treadwell, Alaska she realized after some years that she would need to do a book. Twenty years and a fully researched and published book later she had the idea of turning it into a play, perhaps a musical.

Even though Kelly had never written a play. So of course she took a playwriting class because the Kelly is as dogged as anyone who went to make their fortune in Alaska or work the mine in Treadwell. The class was just ending when Kelly had back pains and was diagnosed with lymphoma.

Almost two years later after aggressive treatment and recovery Kelly asked of herself the question posed in Mary Oliver’s poem, “The Summer Day,” ‘Tell me, what it is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?’’

She knew the answers immediately. Spend time with her family, and turn her book into a play. Part of her impetus is that the 100th anniversary of the Treadwell Gold Mine Disaster was upcoming, and Perseverance Theater in Juneau was interested. “There was skin in the game,” Kelly said.

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