New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media


This article is from our magazine. To view it in its original format, click here

A Year In The Trenches

By Gary Wien

originally published: 08/22/2017

A Year In The Trenches

"If someone in the year 1916 told me that in 1917 I would be in the army, I would have thought him insane." - Charles Edward Dilkes.

Dilkes was the inspiration behind A Year In The Trenches, a new play, written by James Rana and developed with Gayle Stahlhuth, Artistic Director of East Lynne Theater Company. It was commissioned by the New Jersey Historical Commission and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the United States entering World War I. The play will be performed by East Lynne Theater Company in Cape May from September 20 through October 14.

“The World War I Centennial offers us an opportunity to reexamine a period of history that seems absolutely relevant to today,” explained Sara R. Cureton, Executive Director, New Jersey Historical Commission. “Questions regarding how the U.S. should engage with the rest of the world, the role of women in society, the treatment of immigrants, the nature of modern warfare, and the meaning of patriotism challenged citizens of 1917, just as they bedevil us now. A Year in the Trenches shines a spotlight on how some New Jerseyans confronted these issues and brings us greater understanding of both the past and present. The Historical Commission is delighted to join with the New Jersey State Council on the Arts in exploring this pivotal period of our history through this engaging new play.” 

According to Stahlhuth, Sara Cureton read a book based on the memoirs of Dilkes called Remembering World War I: An Engineer’s Diary of the War.  The book described the raw war emotions expressed by Dilkes, a volunteer engineer, who left the comforts of high society to shoulder a shovel and a rifle to serve his country. He was born in Philadelphia, but spent the rest of his life in New Jersey after the war. His story served as the starting point for the play.

Cureton was also interested in the involvement of other people from New Jersey, which led the play to become so Jersey-centric that East Lynne Theater reminds people that, “we understand that many people from many states actually went overseas to fight. It wasn’t just people from Jersey!”



The article continues after this ad

 


In addition to Sergeant Dilkes, other characters include poet Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918), pilot Kenneth Russell Unger (1898-1979), nurse Amabel Scharff Roberts (1891-1918), “Hello Girl” Grace Banker (1892-1960) and other Americans who went to Europe when the United States entered first entered the war.  The play is based on Dilkes’ book and other historical sources.  ​

“I think it’s always a good reminder to inform people that there is a pattern to everything and a pattern to history,” said Stahlhuth. “World War I was the ‘war to end all wars.’ One hundred years ago, it was going to be that and it wasn’t.  It has just kept going. History is always relevant.  You can find a play written in every decade that is completely universal and wonderful. It’s amazing the quality of the playwriting in this country and so many plays have just fallen through the cracks.”

A Year In The Trenches

Regardless of whether the audience makes the connection to current events or is simply caught up in the World War I story, the East Lynne Theater Company continues its practice of producing plays that have a strong tie in with modernity. A Year In The Trenches explores the role of the United States in the world and whether or not it should get involved in foreign wars - a topic straight out of today’s headlines as well.

“Sometimes I think because Cape May is a throwback in time people assume that our shows are also a throwback in time,” continued Stahlhuth.  “They don’t realize that the topics we have continue to resonate with audiences.  I don’t know why any director would want to do a play unless the current audience could connect with it.”

The cast includes three actors who have worked with East Lynne Theater in the past, Matt Baxter Luceno, Jennie Bissell, and Mike Newman, and two who are new to the company: Ryan Genualdi, and Duncan M. Rogers. Joining the cast for the full production is Tara Reuter. Ryan portrays Sergeant Dilkes, and the other cast members play a variety of soldiers and civilians from France, Germany, and the United States.  Live music from the period is performed throughout. 

This is the fifth collaboration between East Lynne Theater and James Rana, a partnership that has been good for both.  Stahlhuth says they work well together. Together they have crafted a production that will help people understand just how impressive it was for Americans to fight in World War I.  It wasn’t simply a courageous act. It was dangerous, costly, and difficult simply travelling overseas.

“Their spirit was incredible,” said Stahlhuth.  “And, at the same time, women were trying to get the right to vote and there were other issues in the country.  There were those who were anti-war, but the spirit of just getting people over to Europe to help the Allies was extremely stunning.  That’s the spirit of the play.”





For more by this author, click here






The Panto Company Presents "Beauty and the Beast" at The Newton Theatre
(NEWTON, NJ) -- When you think of a dying rose and a clock, candlestick andteapot who talk... you are thinking Beauty and the Beast. One of this season's spellbinding family shows from The Panto Company USA stars Dame Dotty Potty, Loopy Louie, Gaston, Belle and of course The Beast!  The company brings their show to The Newton Theatre on Sunday, March 3 at 3:00pm.
La Strada Ensemble Theater Presents "La Bella Familia" by Edwin Sanchez
(OCEAN GROVE, NJ) -- La Strada Ensemble Theater presents La Bella Familia by Edwin Sanchez from January 18-20.  The play deals with a Puerto Rican hit woman and the gentlest man in the world move next door to the neighbors from hell and everyone learns, the hard way, that family comes first.
Art House Productions Presents "The Passion Project" by Reid Farrington
(JERSEY CITY, NJ) -- Art House Productions presents the unique theatrical experience that is Reid Farrington’s The Passion Project performed by Laura K. Nicoll.  Eight performances will take place from February 21st to March 3rd. The Passion Project is a 30 minute vibration between performance, film, and installation. Carl Th.Dreyer’s 1928 immortal masterpiece, “The Passion of Joan of Arc” is the main narrative along with the history behind the making of the film, a discussion with a Danish archivist, the story of making this project, as well as Joan’s own story –– her trial, torture, and execution. The Passion Project explodes the film into the three dimensions; placing the audience inside the film, sitting next to Joan, subjecting them to the relentless rhythm of 35 mm film projection.
4th Wall Theatre Presents "Intimate Apparel" by Lynn Nottage
(MAPLEWOOD, NJ) -- 4TH WALL THEATRE continues its 22nd season with a one weekend run of Lynn Nottage’s Intimate Apparel.  The show will be presented as part of the Black History Month celebrations on February 22, 23, and 24 at the Burgdorff Center for the Performing Arts in Maplewood, NJ.  The show is directed by 4th Wall Executive Director Gwen Ricks-Spencer.
East Lynne Theater, the Henry Sawyer Inn, and Twin Gable's Inn present Murder Mystery Weekends
(CAPE MAY, NJ) -- The award-winning East Lynne Theater Company, with The Henry Sawyer Inn and Twin Gables Inn, present Murder Mystery Weekends on February 15-16, March 8-9, March 22-23, March 29-30, and April 5-6. Participants can test their crime-solving skills while staying in one of these lovely Bed & Breakfasts. East Lynne Theater Company's Murder Mystery Weekends were cited among one of the top five in the country by "AM NY."  


It's "Apple Season" at NJ Rep
Every family has stories. Some are funny. Some are sweet. Some are sad. And some are never shared. Those are often the most powerful.
Rise of the Goatman
Theater For The New City presents Beltsville/Rockville, Part 1: Rise of the Goatman, an original play by Englewood resident Matt Okin (Artistic Director of Black Box Studios), from December 27 through January 13. In this pseudo-Southern Gothic dark comedy, a vibrant group of teens from two very different suburban neighborhoods clash over class differences, drugs, and sex - and the existence of the legendary ‘Goatman’ in 1986. Cut to 2013, and the adolescent kids of those very same teens are struggling to make sense of their family histories - and the same “mythological” creature - that could be holding them back in life.
PHOTOS from "The Winter's Tale" at Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey
(MADISON, NJ) -- The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s concludes its 56th season with its sixth and final Main Stage production, The Winter's Tale. Last seen at The Shakespeare Theatre in 2008, Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte directs this production of Shakespeare’s tragicomedic romance. Veteran company members Jacqueline Antaramian, Jon Barker, Erin Partin, John Keabler, Raphael Nash Thompson,Seamus Mulcahy, Patrick Toon, and Ames Adamson are among a cast of 20 actors. Performances run now through December 30. 
REVIEW: "It's A Wonderful Life" At Mile Square Theatre
Nestled in a corner of Hoboken, on the second floor, lies the studios of radio station WMST.  It’s a wonderful art deco studio, replete with fine wooden walls, embedded with colorful lights an applause sign.  On stage, we’ve got a few chairs, several microphones and a whole corner wedged with all the necessary props – piano, men’s shoes, sheet metal – to create the audio effects for the production of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
Betsy Aidem Puts A Woman's Touch On George Street Playhouse's "A Doll's House, Part 2"
Betsy Aidem is a veteran actress you might have seen on Broadway. Or maybe on an episode of “Law & Order: SVU.” Or maybe on the big screen last year in “The Greatest Showman.” But over the next few weeks in New Brunswick, Aidem is adding a brand-new section to her résumé — by helming a sequel (of sorts) to a classic play that’s more than 100 years old.






Event calendar
Thursday, Jan 17, 2019


MUSIC


Open Mic Night! @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 7:30pm


THEATRE

"Apple Season" by E.M. Lewis @ New Jersey Repertory Company, Long Branch - 8:00pm


KIDS

AMERICAN GIRL LIVE @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 7:00pm

View all events










 






















For more on our awards, click here








New Jersey Stage © 2019 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 (732) 280-7625 | info@newjerseystage.com

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.