The roots of the new work are in a conversation between friends. Ray Ficca, artistic director of Totem Pole Playhouse, was telling playwright Keith Bridges a story about an overzealous Civil War re-enactor he had once met. According to Ficca, "the [re-enactor] would not break character even hours after the reenactment was over. I couldn't understand a word he was saying."
Bridges began to put some ideas on the page. The play "is about a young man who, through the magic of theatre, finds himself traveling back in time [to] 1864 just hours before the burning of Chambersburg," according to Totem Pole notes. "Bridges made a few trips to Chambersburg and researched Civil War letters to discover what life might have been like on that fateful day in 1864."
The play was workshopped throughout the winter of 2010 in conjunction with Charter Theater (Arlington, VA), where Bridges serves as artistic director.
Bridges said in a statement, "I wanted it to be a story about the people of Chambersburg and what they went through in 1864. I didn’t want it to read like a history lesson."
A central idea in the play is what a young man from the modern-day "learns about the true spirit of the people who lived through their country being torn apart by war." Chambersburg, it is noted by Totem Pole, was not a battleground, but it was occupied many times by both the Union and Confederates. When the town refused to pay a ransom demanded by the Confederates in 1864, "Remember Chambersburg" was a popular battle cry for Union soldiers. Jeff Lee, staff associate director for Disney Theatrical Productions, directs the world premiere, which will feature Paris Peet, Jenna Sokolowski, Marsha Waterbury, Larry Dahlke, Alex Webb, Dustin Loomis and Vaughn Irving.
For information about the 2010 Totem Pole season, call (888) 805-7056 or visit www.TotemPolePlayhouse.org.