The cast of "Civil War Voices" performs. The Carson Center will host "Civil War Voices" at 7 p.m. Monday.
Jim Harris found out about the existence of his great-great-uncle’s diary through a relative. He spent weeks reading it, getting through the tiny, almost illegible handwriting and stained pages. His uncle’s story, a chronicle of his days as a Civil War soldier, inspired Harris.
“The story was full of action and intricate details that maybe weren’t public knowledge,” Harris said. “I started doing research, then more characters came out of the woodwork.”
Harris, the playwright responsible for “Civil War Voices,” eventually found five characters and wove their stories into a play that has become known nationwide.
“This is not a dry history lesson,” Harris said. “You learn things without even knowing you are being taught.”
“Civil War Voices” follows five people involved in the Civil War, including a cotton planter with a conflicted conscious — Harris’ great-great-uncle who inspired the play. It also includes the story of Elizabeth Keckley, a former slave who became Mary Todd Lincoln’s closest friend and personal dressmaker; a married couple separated by the war, and a college professor from Maine who enlisted to fight for the Union.
“The entire story is very moving,” Harris said. “It’s passionate — the people in this story had lives that were totally changed by the war.”
It also features a score, written by acclaimed composer Mark Hayes, of traditional Civil War songs that were rearranged for the “Civil War Voices.”
The play was written as part of a fundraiser for a museum in the South. Then, Harris brought it up to the Midtown International Theater Festival in New York City in 2010, where it received rave reviews.
Moreover, the story was a huge hit among Civil War buffs around the country. It was performed at the 2010 National Civil War Conference in Gettysburg, as well as in Charleston, S.C. for the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Harris accompanied the play up to Washington, D.C. last month when it was performed for the anniversary of the Battle of Bull Run.
“Everyone can enjoy this play,” Harris said. “It’s about people, and the time period and historical parts really give it more entertainment value.”Want to go?
When: Monday, October 17, at 7 p.m.
Where: The Carson Center
Tickets: $18 for adults, $10 for children
For more information check out thecarsoncenter.org