By John K. Adams
It has been said that we are not in history, but that history is in us. History exists in the hearts and memories of the living and those who lived and who passed their stories down to us. History lives and breathes and bleeds because we do. The Civil War Remembered, at the Eclectic Company Theatre, is a play written and produced in that spirit.
This play is no drowsy history lesson. It is made for those who love our history and are curious about what makes us tick as a people and as a country.The living souls who experienced that war, on either side, tell their stories through a surviving letter or a family account that keeps their memory alive.
The Civil War Remembered explores the ideas that divided our country; divided families to the point of death; tore lovers apart; broke people; made others rich – and made us, with all our flaws, who we are today.
Writer/director Maureen Lucy O’Connell makes a living history from the letters and newspaper stories of the day and presents an intimate portrayal of people of the day, with living actors to make it real. Imagine history more real than what you see on twitter or Facebook today.
Meet the black journalist, Thomas Morris Chester, who investigates and tells what he found.
Then, the saga of a farewell letter, sent to a dying officer’s betrothed, but tragically never delivered.
Learn of Ellen Bond, a house servant recruited by a Union spy, Elizabeth Van Lew, to observe and pass information to support the Union cause.
And of course, there’s Mary Todd Lincoln—wife, mother and one who struggled with many demons besides being the wife and very visible first lady for President Abraham Lincoln. Her memories of the war, loss and the strife within her household bring many difficult realities to life. See the young woman disguised as a drummer boy, so she could follow her lover into battle, and never part.
Songs of the day are sung as they were then, a cappella, and with full hearts and joy.
Producer Siobhan Gilreath hopes The Civil War Remembered will reach students of all ages and inform us about what that war means today. She hopes to offer an alternative to standard fare with an actual live performance in a neighborhood theater that the whole family can share and relive together.
This is a play of flesh and blood and ideas celebrating what makes our country great.
“The Civil War Remembered” is staged through October 16th at the Eclectic Company Theatre located at 5312 Laurel Canyon Blvd. in Valley Village. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm. Ample free parking is available. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (818) 643-1662.
Note: This interview appeared in the Tolucan Times on September 22, 2016.