The last time we produced Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage, an educator found fault with the statement, “War is hell,” and was upset by the phrase, “The generals are jackasses.” And when the central character Henry Fleming’s closest friend dies, Henry says, “Damn.” I adapt; I rarely create. I try hard, very hard, to keep the author’s words intact.
My first thought was, “Haven’t you read it, if you are teaching it?” And then my more sane thought was, “Make no waves; ‘fools’ would suffice for a description of the generals and a plea of ‘Oh God’ would work for the friend’s death.” But nothing better could be found for “war is hell” … for it is. And if we don’t know that, we should. And if we haven’t heard it yet, it is a teachable moment.
My braced and bespectacled gentleman with the beautiful and gracious wife generously fronted us the funds for the Civil War uniforms after I informed them that four rentals would be more expensive than buying the uniforms outright. I mentioned that we would need them for all four Sequicentennial years. The authentic, re-enactor approved, perfect uniforms first appeared in our production of the musical The Civil War last season, and we used one again for Dr. Richard Gildrie’s staged reading of Surrender of Clarksville, February 1862, which we helped to stage and costume. Now they come back out, brand clean, for our second go-round of the Stephen Crane classic The Red Badge of Courage.
A few weeks ago, this theatre received the Community Ovation Award which was prefaced by very kind words from Jim Mann and Joyce Norris. It is difficult for me to even wrap my mind around almost 30 years of live theatre of which, in one way or another, I have been very fortunate to have been a part. I am constantly amazed by the number of people who support us in so many ways: the loaning of props, the gifts of costumes, stage lighting, matching funds, annual pledges, corporate gifts, donations, gift certificates, bringing school groups on field trips, “Pennies for Plays” donations, and ticket sales.
Our Title I Learning Center sessions came to a glorious end with parents and their children witnessing the final dress rehearsal of our production The Red Badge of Courage and afterwards dining on pizza with cast members Josh Bernaski, Ryan Bowie, Ashley Laverty, Brandon Meeks and Gregory Pember. Gregory Pember, our Hamlet and Jack from Into the Woods, returned for The Winter’s Tale and will stay on for Spring Awakening. What talent and wisdom beyond his years he brings to the role of Henry Fleming, Stephen Crane’s central character in The Red Badge of Courage.
Tonight at 8pm is the pay-what-you-can preview of The Red Badge of Courage. Any tickets not pre-sold at the regular ticket price go on sale at 7:30pm for whatever price you wish to pay.
See you at the theatre!