A three-part series of play readings with the theme of war in one's homeland begins next Monday at Founders Hall inside the
The series, produced by the Spotlight the Arts Foundation and entitled What I Did During the War, features a trio of classic productions including Henry V, Major Barbara: A Comedy and Caucasian Chalk Circle. Admission is free.
Matthew Henerson pitched the idea to the foundation and is directing as well as appearing in the performances. He said the three plays were chosen to give audiences a look at how people experience war on their homefront.
"It occurred that to me that America has been at war pretty consistently since 2003, but the American experience of war is very different from other countries' experiences of war because it's never happened in our homes," he said. "It struck me that three plays about three different experiences of war might be interesting for an American audience."
Since the series consists of readings, there will be no props or elaborate costumes, just a group of actors with "good, long resumes with the classics" and their scripts, Henerson said.
Taking that approach makes it easier to expose audiences who don't have many venues for live theater to a wide array of material, he said.
Below is a schedule of performances and description of each play provided by the Spotlights the Arts Foundation.
1. Henry V by William Shakespeare – Monday, April 23 at 7:30pm.
Shakespeare’s sweeping epic tells the tumultuous story of the newly-crowned Henry’s campaign to recapture the English possessions in France. Through the triumphs and heartbreaks of war, culminating in his miraculous victory at Agincourt, Henry learns what it means to be a king, and a man.
2. Major Barbara: A Comedy By George Bernard Shaw – Monday, May 14 at 7:30pm.
George Bernard Shaw's satirical comedy examines how the business of war can play havoc with the moral compasses of an Edwardian English family. Barbara Undershaft is a pacifist, and a Major in the Salvation Army, serving at a shelter for the underprivileged. Her estranged father, Andrew Undershaft, a millionaire arms manufacturer, makes a generous contribution to her cause. But can one put a price on filial affection, on principal, or on a beloved daughter’s soul?
3. Caucasian Chalk Circle by Bertold Brecht – Monday June 11 at 7:30pm.
Bertold Brecht, himself an exile from Nazi Germany, creates a dark but ultimately uplifitng comedy about a serving girl who sacrifices everything to save the abandoned baby, of exiled aristocrats, in the anarchic aftermath of a violent political coup. When, several years later, the child’s biological mother returns to reclaim the child in an effort to consolidate her political position, it falls to a corrupt and dissolute judge to define and defend the nature of motherhood.