Civil War Play, "Soldier, Come Home" by Frank W. Wicks, Launches the 150th Anniversary of the American Civil War

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“Soldier, Come Home”, a play by Frank W. Wicks based on his great-grandparent's Civil War letters, launches the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War at GreenMan Theatre, Elmhurst, Illinois. The letters were written 1859 to 1865 from western Pennsylvania and from several major Civil War battle sites, including Antietam, Chancellorsville, The Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, the siege of Petersburg, and Appomattox. The play opens April 14, 2011 and runs until April 17 in commemoration of Civil War 150.

Historic family Civil War letters were the inspiration for Frank W. Wicks' play, "Soldier, Come Home".

"Soldier, Come Home played to enraptured audiences. The script, plus the acting, staging, lighting and music produced an amazing, intimate view of history. This is a theater experience not to be missed."

"Soldier, Come Home" by Frank W. Wicks, (http://www.civilwarplay.com) a play based on family Civil War letters, launches the 150th anniversary of the start of the American Civil War at GreenMan Theatre, Elmhurst, Illinois, on April 14, 2011.

The play, directed by Phil Hendricks, opens on the anniversary of the actual beginning of the war, April 14, and runs for four performances. "Soldier, Come Home" is produced in conjunction with Elmhurst Reads The Civil War, a yearlong community-wide festival sponsored by the Elmhurst Public Library commemorating Civil War 150.

Frank W. Wicks, a founding member of the Long Wharf Theatre, a graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and a theatre professional since 1958, transformed the letters of his great-grandparents, Philip and Mary Pringle, into a play. Mary Pringle wrote to her husband from Armagh, Pennsylvania, while he responded from several major Civil War battle sites, including Antietam, The Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, the siege of Petersburg, and Appomattox.

In 1950, the long-forgotten letters, written from 1859 -1865, were discovered in a shoe box in the attic of the home of Wicks' grandparents, John S. Wicks and Sadie Pringle Wicks, in South Fork, Pennsylvania. Wicks' father, Frank Wicks, Sr., began to transcribe the letters. After his father's death, Wicks continued the project and began work on "Soldier, Come Home."

"I was struck from the beginning by the emotional content of the letters," Wicks said. "They were filled with conflicts, complicated relationships, humor, enormous difficulties and struggles for survival. I felt that the energy of the letters, plus their historical importance, would make an interesting dramatic presentation."

The play (http://www.civilwarplay.com) is performed as reader's theatre by 5 actors using minimal sets, lights and costumes. GreenMan Theatre director Phil Hendricks says, "A while ago I became very interested in simple theater and performance. Spectacle is wonderful, but what's been speaking to me for a few years now is honest relationships between real people. "Soldier, Come Home" has that and that is what first drew me to it."

The cast includes Aimee Kennedy and Ken Bradley as Mary and Philip Pringle; Devon Moon and Jerry Moore as their brothers, Dan Luke and Martin Pringle; and Steven Soria in multiple roles of their fathers, older brother, and family friends. Cassy Beach is the set designer and live music is by Tom Viskocil.

"Soldier, Come Home" has been playing to sold-out houses since its premiere performance in Brunswick, Maine in 2002. The play has since been performed throughout the Northeast, including an Off-Broadway presentation in New York City. For the opening performance, critics said, "Soldier, Come Home played to enraptured audiences. The script, plus the acting, staging, lighting and music produced an amazing, intimate view of history. This is a theater experience not to be missed."

Performances will be held on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, April 14, 15, 16 at 7:00 p.m., and on Sunday, April 17 at 2:00 p.m., presented by GreenMan Theatre at Asbury Hall, First United Methodist Church, 232 York St., Elmhurst, Illinois. For tickets and further information, call 630-464-2646.

"Soldier, Come Home" is available for performances and readings by theatre companies, schools, colleges, Civil War visitor centers, Civil War Round Tables, historical societies, and community groups throughout America to mark the observance of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War. For more information about bringing the play to a community venue, log onto http://www.civilwarplay.com.

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