The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek

Naomi Wallace
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High atop a railroad trestle that spans a bone dry creek, two teenagers plan to race across the bridge against an oncoming locomotive. At first their scheme adds excitement to life in a small factory town during the Great Depression, then sensual experience awakens dangerous passions in an era of stifled ambitions. With theatrical flourish and lyrical finesse, Naomi Wallace delves into a world where people struggle to change lives that bear down upon them.

Production Info

Cast: 5 total (2 female, 3 male)
Full Length Drama (about 110 minutes)
Single Set
Period Costumes

Press Quotes

“… Naomi Wallace, the thirty-eight-year-old Kentucky playwright at work here, received a MacArthur ‘genius grant’ last week, and TRESTLE AT POPE LICK CREEK, her lovely, strikingly poetic Depression-era play … certainly illustrates what makes her deserving … the play sometimes seems like a blend of Ingmar Bergman and Horton Foote, with Thornton Wilder on the side … TRESTLE is set in 1936 in a in a town so dull that the only thing young people can pit themselves against, the only thing greater than them, is the 7:10 train with its 153-ton engine and deafening roar. So we find Dalton and Pace, who becomes his girlfriend despite his repeated insistence that she is not pretty, making plans to test themselves by trying to outrun the train on a trestle a hundred feet above a dry creek bed. Another boy from their town tried it recently and died … By the end, the play, like that train, has built up a full head of steam and we feel its power.” —Anita Gates, The New York Times

“… TRESTLE is an often poignant, nonlinear-narrative coming-of-age story that’s set in 1936 in a ‘town outside a city, somewhere in the United States … TRESTLE is at once charming and haunting … you’ll view it with wonder along the way.” —Sam Whitehead, Time Out

“… The honor for the most original and memorable work of this year’s 22nd Humana Festival goes to another Kentuckian, Naomi Wallace, for her brilliant THE TRESTLE AT POPE LICK CREEK … After the two-act play ended with an erotic, gender-twisted climax, there was a moment in the darkness when I thought: ‘This must be how it felt when people saw A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE for the very first time.’ Like Tennessee Williams’s daring play, Wallace’s work introduces a new level of sexual honesty with a fresh mature voice. TRESTLE wraps its five characters in a metaphorical drama within a romantic and tragic mystery. It’s a complicated, interwoven play that moves back and forth in time between past and present, with layers of meaning that overlap and build upon each other. Despite its depth of symbolism and clear political message, the play is neither stuffy nor strident. A bright ripple of humor funs through Wallace’s play about two sexually charged young people who consider a game of chicken with an oncoming train. Wallace’s keen psychological insights evoke compassion for her characters. Tears are shed and not only over the pathos of the play … The actors stir the emotions with the tender way they expose the fragility and indomitable beauty of the human spirit, as revealed through Wallace’s words … If Wallace’s plays were a visual art, ONE FLEA SPARE would be a baroque oil painting, while THE TRESTLE AT POPE LICK CREEK would be a 1930s American photograph with contrasting lights and shadows and its direct, unsentimental and uncensored gaze into the lives of the working class.” —Judith Egerton, Courier-Journal, Louisville

About the Author


  • Naomi Wallace

    Naomi Wallace is a playwright from Kentucky. Her plays — which have been produced in the United Kingdom, Europe, the United States, and the Middle East — include IN THE HEART OF AMERICA, SLAUGHTER CITY, ONE FLEA SPARE, THE TRESTLE AT POPE LICK CREEK, THINGS OF DRY HOURS, THE FEVER CHART: THREE VISION OF THE MIDDLE EAST, AND I AND SILENCE, THE HARD WEATHER BOATING PARTY, THE LIQUID PLAIN. Her stage adaptation of William Wharton's novel Birdy was produced on the West End in London. In 2009, ONE FLEA SPARE was incorporated in the permanent repertoire of the French National Theater, the Comédie- Francaise. Only two American playwrights have been added to La Comédie's repertoire in 300 years. Films: Lawn Dogs, The War Boys, Flying Blind (co-written with Bruce McLeod). Awards: Susan Smith Blackburn Prize (twice), Joseph Kesselring Prize, Fellowship of Southern Writers Drama Award, Obie Award, and the 2012 Horton Foote Award for most promising new American play. She is also a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Arts development grant. In 2013, Wallace received the inaugural Windham Campbell prize for drama and in 2015, an Arts and Letters Award in Literature.

About the Book

Book Information

Publisher BPPI
Publication Date 6/30/2000
Pages 68
ISBN 9780881451801

Special Notes

Special Notes

Licensees are required to include the original stage producers credits in the following form on the title page in all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play and in all advertising in which the full cast appears in size of type not less than ten percent (10%) of the size of the title of the Play:

Originally produced at Actors Theatre of Louisville

The following must appear within all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play:
The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek is produced
by special arrangement with Broadway Play Publishing Inc, NYC


Upcoming and Recent Productions


2/25/2019 – 2/25/2019
Bike City Theatre Company
Davis, CA

8/21/2018 – 8/21/2018
Festival Antigonish
Antigonish, NS, Canada

1/11/2017 – 1/21/2017
The Spot Sun Valley, Inc.
Ketchum, ID

11/27/2015 – 12/11/2015
Catalyst Arts Atlanta
Atlanta, GA


4/22/2023 – 5/7/2023
Bagonghi Compagnie Hamburg
Hamburg, Germany

11/29/2022 – 12/1/2022
Columbia College Chicago
Chicago, IL

5/12/2022 – 5/14/2022
Carbon Copy Gallery
Louisville, KY

11/8/2019 – 11/17/2019
Central New Mexico Community College
Albuquerque, NM

7/5/2019 – 7/20/2019
Celebration Company At The Station Theatre
Urbana, IL

5/3/2019 – 5/19/2019
Albany Civic Theater
Albany, NY

1/18/2019 – 1/19/2019
Apt 916
Katy, TX

9/12/2018 – 9/23/2018
Temple Theaters
Philadelphia, PA

4/20/2018 – 4/21/2018
Department Of Theatre Arts, University Of Puget Sound
Tacoma, WA

4/18/2018 – 4/22/2018
Tarrant County College Nw Campus
Fort Worth, TX

11/30/2017 – 12/3/2017
Hampshire College
Amherst, MA

3/14/2017 – 3/14/2017
A Simple Theatre In Residence At Eckerd College
Saint Petersburg, FL

3/3/2017 – 3/11/2017
Schwartz Center For The Performing Arts
Ithaca, NY

4/16/2016 – 4/17/2016
The Group Theatre At Keene State College
Keene, NH