Saturday, September 28, 2013

Fritz and I have just gotten permission from the Editor/Publisher to adapt a book of letters from and to a young Raymond, NH man, a highly decorated sharpshooter in the Civil War, into a play for voices.   

Unlike the vast majority of soldiers whose hitches were for one or two years, Willy Greene's superior skills were such that he was kept in for all five, seeing action in some of the most important and devastating battles of the war.  His survival was extraordinary because the Confederate armies had big bounties on sharpshooters, and tried to take as many out as possible at each engagement.  But Willy came out alive and eventually moved out west to become a farmer in Oklahoma.

The letters were discovered two decades ago in a concealed drawer in a desk that was being repaired and refinished.  Fritz had the book when we first got together over sixteen years ago and always thought that a performance piece could be made of it.  The fact that we're working with letters makes it easy to produce -- nobody has to memorize anything.  The letters to and from Willy and his Mother, Uncle, Friends, et al. would all be read as in A. R. Gurney's very successful two character play Love Letters.  A narrator will fill in the blanks and provide various facts as necessary.  Only a few rehearsals will be required to set the tone, get people familiar with the material, and comfortable with their characters. 

The idea is to have the play ready for the 250th anniversary of the Town of Raymond next summer, under the auspices of the Raymond Historical Society of which we are members.  A church on the Town Green, where a very handsome version of the typical New England Civil War Memorial stands, will probably be the performance venue.  It would also be offered to other New Hampshire towns for July 4th or Old Home Day celebrations, etc.  The play will not be performed for a fee; the idea is that all performances be community efforts offered without charge (the Editor/Publisher loved the idea and is not asking for any fee or royalties, either).  If audience members want to leave a contribution to their town's Historical Society, fine, but we want Willy Greene's story to be available to everyone who wants to see it, gratis.


Very interested in the project.... Could it be something that could have a reading here in Oklahoma also.

Hi, Kent--

Simply as a piece of American history,
yes, certainly. The Civil war affected the whole country and had huge resonance even in the states and territories that weren't involved with actual combat. Thanks for being in touch!

What an exciting project!

When you described it as letters from Greene as well as to him from various people my first thought was a format like "The Exonerated" or even "Quilt, A Musical Celebration" but having them actually read as in Gurney's play will make it much more personal.

I hope you record it.

Good luck with it!

How exciting!
What a great way of contributing to the community. Congratulations!
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