Oldcastle Theatre Production Recalls Bennington in WWII
he last play of the 2014 season at Oldcastle Theatre is about Bennington people who served in World War II, and the community itself during the war years.
‘Bennington Goes to War’ was written by Anthony Marro and Eric Peterson, longtime artistic director at Oldcastle. Much of the dialogue comes from oral history interviews that members of the Bennington Historical Society did with WWII veterans more than a decade ago, and from more recent interviews done by Dr. Richard Dundas and his grandson Conor Bowen. The result is a play about real people, told largely in their own words: Gedeon LaCroix watching the flag raising on Iwo Jima; Margaret Lillie working with an air control tower at a Naval Air Station in Rhode Island; John Maloney crossing the Rhine with the first American troops to move into Germany; James Merrow being wounded at the Battle of the Bulge; and Joseph Krawczyk getting a battlefield commission in the South Pacific.
“The interesting thing for us was just how suddenly and dramatically people’s lives changed,’ Peterson said. “Young men often went in only a year or so from playing baseball for Bennington High School to dropping bombs on Germany, splashing ashore on the invasion of South Pacific islands, and racing across France with Patton’s tanks. A lot of these people had seldom been more than 50 miles from home, and suddenly they were in foxholes in Italy, on bombers flying out of Britain, and manning guns on destroyers in the South Pacific.”
Four performances will be staged on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, October 24, 25 and 26, with three actors – Richard Howe, Christine Decker and Willy Jones – playing multiple roles.
Two of the principal characters, both well-known and popular residents at the time, are Frank (Ginger) Howe, owner, publisher and editor of the Bennington Banner, and Leonard Morrison, a local attorney who wrote a column for the Banner during the war years. Much of the material in the play comes from the Morrison column, called ‘Letter From Home,’ – which was meant to be clipped from the newspaper and mailed to men and women in the service – and from information in the files of the Banner and the Bennington Museum. More than 70 people from the area are mentioned in the play, which will run for about an hour and a half without intermission, and will feature large blow-up pictures of the service men and women in war zones, as well as recorded Big Band music from the war years.
For more information, including times and ticket pricing, call 802-447-0564 or visit oldcastletheatre.org.