“If someone in the year 1916 told me that in 1917 I’d be in the army, I would have thought him insane,” said Charles Edward Dilkes (1887-1968). Meet Sargent Dilkes, 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 Stated entered World War I a hundred years ago. Written by James Rana, A Year in the Trenches is based on Dilkes’ book Remembering World War I: An Engineer’s Diary of the War, and other historical accounts. Charles Edward Dilkes was born in Philadelphia, but spent the rest of his life in New Jersey after the war. Live music from the period is performed throughout.
The script for this world premiere, written by James Rana and developed with Gayle Stahlhuth, was commissioned by the New Jersey Historical Commission and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Gayle Stahlhuth is directing the full two-act production in Cape May.
The first staged reading of a one-hour version of Trenches was at The Bickford Theatre in Morristown, NJ, sponsored by the New Jersey Theatre Alliance’s Stages Festival. On April 28, another reading was at the Ocean County Public Library in Toms River, NJ, sponsored by the Ocean County Cultural and Heritage Commission. Additional readings are planned for McGuire Air Force Base/Fort Dix, a location in Trenton TBD, and Ocean County Community College. The staged-reading version was directed by Eric Hafen, Artistic Director of the Bickford Theatre.
The readings include three actors who are new to the company: Laura Chaneski, Ryan Genualdi, and Duncan M. Rogers, and two who have worked with ELTC before: Matt Baxter Luceno (Within the Law, It Pays to Advertise, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow) and Mike Newman (Biography). All are in the full two-act version of Trenches, along with Tara Reuter (Dracula), who has also performed with ELTC. Ryan portrays Sargent Dilkes, and the other five play a variety of soldiers and civilians from France, Germany, and the United States.
Special Dates and Times: No show Wed. Oct. 4; show on Sun. Oct. 8 at 7:30pm; Wed. Oct. 11 a 2:00 matinee with no evening show