America on stage; "Rip Van Winkle" by Joseph Jefferson
Our Southern friends assure us the General Beauregard is to open fire on port Sumter this morning. There lies the old fort solemn and grim as ever and the flagstaff stands above it like a warning finger. If they do fire upon it the echo of that first shot will be heard above their graves and heaven knows how many of our own also. But the flag will still float over the graves of both sides. Are you Southerners all mad Robert are you novenas nor blind. We Virginians would prevent a war if we could but your people in the north do not believe that one is coming. You will see the truth. I tell you a coachable of war between the north and south is inevitable I say old boy. Are we to be enemies. Our only hope. We shall never meet in battle. It's an old war and the old wounds are almost healed. The dead have lain in their graves thirty five years and the green grass covers the scars of war in the
Virginia valley where the Shenandoah flows. Now men can write about it can real live and reenact the great drama of the TALK OF THE NATION apart. Now in New York through the winter of 1889 and 90 the people can come to the theater and remember remember the heroes and the heartaches. Remember the wounds of war and the healing of peace. The play is Shenandoah based on Gen. Phil Sheridan's famous campaign in the valley. The author is Bronson Howard the producer Charles Bronson and the people the people who come to see it night after night to think and feel and remember they are Americans. As they are.
Program twirl of America on stage. The character of a nation as seen through its theater. America on stage is produced by the Wisconsin state broadcasting service under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters consulting for the series is Jonathan W. Kervyn professor of speech at the University of Wisconsin and a specialist in the American theater. Here to introduce the program Professor Kirby if by some hocus pocus we could conjure up all the Dramatis who had ever written a war play. We could easily muster a regiment of them and a good number in the ranks would be playwrights of the American Civil War. For this tragic conflict whose causes of events and consequences historians are still exploring provided writers for the stage with a natural subject drama lay ready at hand in the war's individual battles and its military heroes Rand least on Will Jackson
in the adventures of the Secret Service. Lincoln's career during the war years his assassination suggested a great American tragedy as did the awful implications of a war that brought men of one country face to face in deadly combat. The Civil War was itself high drama. During the war a number of plays hastily written and produced serve the purpose of a crude kind of staged journalism with titles like bull run of the sacking of Fairfax Court-House and the capture of Fort Donelson. They purported to represent military events of the immediate past. They held at least a temporary interest during the decades of the wars after Mass General perspectives on the war changed. A sentimental Hades Suttle over the horrors of the battlefields obscuring the stark realities. And so when the Seder audience is delighted in tempered accounts of the conflict of the kind that Shenandoah by Bronson Howard typifies so well.
The scene is a beautiful home in Virginia a southern girl from Gertrude telling him his on stage in writing dress outside the terrace windows we see her horse and the groom Gertrudis talking to a young New-Yorker coachable West. He's in the uniform of the U.S. Cavalry. I have been slow but I assure you Miss Gertrude that my subject. I intend to run the jack is waiting for sugar plums pawing the ground impatient for me to be on the out bin Laden company Gertrude here say around you what Jack dear girl. You know Jack has been mad ever since he was a little code how brought you up didn't I Jack. I would be part of the problem for the world and I'm the only woman here allowed to be near you were the only woman go through they are live in the present now just go along with Pete outcomes Gershon who should be late the bombardment will start soon and if we want to walk I don't believe they'll show the forces
that you want him brought in cigarette case against a box of blood. Don. You will lose the bet. But you shall have the gloves and one of the hands that go inside them shall be my own until someone else wins it. Am I your enemy you have told me that you will return to the north and take the field. Yes I will. You'll be fighting against my friends against my brother against me. We shall be enemies if you will have it so how will have it so I am a Southern woman Gertrude we may never meet again but I must know the truth. I LOVE YOU DO YOU LOVE ME. Answer me a little broad line of fire in the sky. It's best in the. Boat. Now do you believe that we Southerners are in deadly earnest. We Northerners are in deadly earnest too. I have received my answer. We are all enemies. Farewell. Up.
Look at. The end. Smashing applause. The audience likes this first act. They've been applauding like this throughout the play's run and tonight is the two hundred and fifty of performers now in New York this spring night in April. We're seeing it for the last time. The play's closing and Mr. Frohman will send the company on a road tour. Many people here tonight are seeing on and off for the second or even the third time is drawing full houses all through the fall and winter and people will be talking about it for many weeks. Please it's not worth carrying around so I didn't mean I was really thinking a good time to know. Would you like to go home.
We don't have we can get right up and all I want to stay I want to see you. You mean the prisoner when he goes into battle and and does all the doesn't know doesn't know who he uses or how brave. It's just a ploy just to play that you've seen it once already. You should know it. Again. See him again before they stop. Do. You think we don't. You my do we get and the Lowden is ways not forgiven or taken away from us. It's a long time ago mother. Never got up my spunk again seems like women's different arguers these things but I never said nor thought what he was spoken to and when I
don't know how it is but see in this play. For me something new in the family. Even the preacher couldn't do. It's like seeing this actor being in prison and escape and even the way he died. It's like I'm a scape and who would say goodbye male will I get and free of sad news for just over the top most proud of the boy to be proud of mother. Right now we're right mother. But what you're good until the bridge you go to New York City twice when you just go. I got me a new hat too and I'll be in church Sunday same as always with my new spring.
Oh I see my partner. Here it is. General Sherman isn't it good of you to come sir. I'm Bronson Howard here of course a couple of insert Creech play crew to play. See I've said you might be here sir. I mean Mr. Frohman he and I are both deeply honored by your praise of Shenandoah. Simple truth nothing more simple truth. Best play I've ever seen about the war. Glad you didn't give it the same classification you have aboard this closer this play is a pleasure I tell you or I wouldn't have been your somebody's time. Already is here and you've caught some of that in your writings for what men are made on the field of battle. The armor on both sides. It's a pity Sheridan couldn't have seen it. I like to think he would have approved of the third act it was agreed cavalry leader given the tact. Oh the meat over to the marrow to fill Sjodin would have liked it. Like our accuracy state is where we'd best be going in Mr Howard
thank you I think I'll wait in the fresh air so I'll be back with a cavalry charge though and it's been a pleasure to talk with you General well in depth you are serving the nation in your day. Thank you Jen. Did the general decorate your programme home Brooke. Will you walking out of my plane just waiting for the horrors just waiting for the orders. See easy truth. Roman gave the name to the actor Hugh Miller on opening night like this by Siri the curtain came down on the cavalry charge and you could hear the applause all the way to the Bowery S.F. rushed backstage telling Henry we've got it. The horse is your music it's ready he said For all we know we were you know I met him on Broadway before he bought be sure he'd heard about it and told me he was going up to Boston to see the trial run. I asked what for and he said he wanted to buy it. Well you know I've been a theater manager since he was a boy in short pants and we hate to see him
throw money away. Is spatially money I know he hasn't got. So I tell him I'm generally a boy you're crazy it's a failure nobody wants it. FROMAN just looks a bit mean Grinstead simple small town green me is sort of apologetically and says I may be crazy but I'm going to try my best to get shall endure. I felt sorry for him as well. He'd seen other plays I wrote I guess no reflection on you brunch and you were always a great name great writer a good bet but anyone could write a lemon and Shenandoah looked like a lemon in Boston. Don't misunderstand me I know it was weak then but CM better talk with me. Funny thing a man 20 years younger than I am new in the theater business broke but he came to me and talked about writing. The first thing I knew he was gently very gently making suggestions encouraging helping me and getting me to try a rewrite on the play. He put his finger right on the weak spot. He said you haven't
made enough out of Sheridan's right. By Jove when I worked over everything he said improved it. Now we have a smash hit at our hand cash at the box office in a big group tour would you figure to gross on it. Oh I don't know. We'll see in Chicago you know what you have says about audiences I mean you know what I ask him the difference between Metropolitan out of town audiences he says. Fifty seven say it sounds like the battle scenes I don't want to miss it. New York's look at the Union Army charging up the Shenandoah Valley. Who can resist. The cold shoulder.
This is the truth the stages feel about the Union forces are marching to the fine old house in the valley. Only the women are there something women waiting for the alley the enemy who once came as friends to the stuff and the and the the the orig the eat up all over the i and saw the smaller church the yard. To this house this very house and how it will not stand here and see the past. Oh.
The veranda is open sir. Seems the house is deserted. I doubt we'll set up headquarters here. General Haftar will be here soon. You have among the prisoners Colonel Robert Ellingham of the tenth Virginia. You're sure he's here under parole and this is the old Ellingham homestead. Gertrude herself is here I suppose. Almost a prisoner to me like a brother and my troops around their home. Your orders are post sentries if you keep the men on the air like it. That's three top mountain over there beyond the words. If the rebels know about Sheridan's departure for Washington they may try to signal their forces below and spring a surprise attack. Good chance of pulling it off to I'd say officer wishes to report to your service map the road to Winchester looks to be about twenty miles down a federal reporting sir. I understand a volunteer is needed to take a party through the rise to three top mountain. Frank. Bedloe. No no no sir. I mean yes I scarcely knew you. Your face was as smooth as a boy when I last met you in Charleston. We have not met sir and the name's not Bedloe.
You have Frank haven't all you've escaped from prison. My father must not know. Don't tell the gent you have my word for it. But he thinks you and I know he thinks I'm dead and a coward let it be so to hurt my father. General have a real good. You have matters in hand I see. This is the officer to lead the volunteer party. Yes this is Lieutenant Bedloe's. Do not refuse me. I must have this today. All right. I do not conceal from you the danger of the mission on which I am sending you. Here are your orders. It is imperative we know if the enemy will attack in General Sheridan's absence. I understand sir. If you were a father living. My father I understand my boy. If if you do not return I will write myself to your friends. Where is your mother. Excuse me General. I have the address of the lieutenant's friends. I will see to it.
Very well. Good bye my lad. Keep a brave heart and come back to us. Dismissed. Thank you sir. My boy Sergeant Lieutenant Bedloe will cross the enemy's lines that buck in support of the party of men. I wish you to ride to the gorge yourself and remain there as soon as any survivor of the party returns right back with the news at full speed. Here's Corporal van reporting tour with prisoners. All right dismissed. A general you wish to see these maps no not for the present Colonel won't be on the alert we'll meet again later tonight when it happens it read in Fresno County West captured in the cell very well Corporal dismissed. Will you have me search Colonel West. Good food I thought. Why do you not dare to use harm your prisoner. Prisoner. I'm sorry to be in such a position. You will please hand me whatever papers may be in your possession you will force me I suppose. Order in the government. Make it up doesn't root root root or forget the war
for just one moment. During all these terrible years in the camp and the trench in the battle I've dreamed of a meeting like this. I remember when we last met. I think you were jealous of my horse Jack then. Yes Jack and now an army comes between us. But I have news of Jack for you. He was captured. Do you have and he will get him back to me. Please there is nothing else I cannot give him back. He was a general's fine saddle now the best cavalry man in the Union Army look after his General Sheridan's horse. He is mom. Must your general steal every. What's the signal they signal from three top mountain. It's an attack on Colonel the enemy's discover General Sheridan's absent reconnaissance shows no enemy on our right reports that were retreating up the valley. Can we reach General showed that Winchester I've sent dispatches if we can hold out and if Sheridan gets through. Order the Third Brigade a coverage of occupy the left of the Pike professor at once. Sergeant
reported once any news of the volunteer party Lieutenant Bedloe he must be caught in the line of fire. Yes sir and your horse is waiting for these orders for Colonel power over to the where are you Colonel West is going to miss. We was just crossing the garden path. See for yourself. Called Ascension sinus I've got to report the truth to this. You're all I need. Good journalists are the devils have sprung out of the ground they're pouring over the bodies of all in all it's coming up the hill to treat my own regiment. They dare not. Fight. For you.
We are at peace and I can only prove I am. I am. Doesn't follow the star. This isn't this close down this war now it is a game. That is about it. I am yes I am yes I am
me and. I am. I am. I am. However. The great battle scene is over. The audience stands breathless exhausted and moves down the aisles for intermission. It's a kind of painful release an awakening that aches as the people find themselves back once more in reality. In a theater in New York on a spring night 35 years after the Great War was fought at the door watching the people and hearing them talk stands a little
man with a small town green and unassuming silent. The people pushed by him not noticing Charles from him. I was raised in Virginia. My father had a horse just seared. And I remember him telling me when I was just a little girl. How do you know Nicole I know right. That's just I wish I was in the third. And we went down the pike just a second. I can find my handkerchief and I don't really well I'm going to cry when that girl with that lovely lovely girl just stands there trying to get those men turned back just breaks my heart like a mother remember. After this comes the bees were out there all together for a time of peace afterwards. All but the boy that you. Know people are feeling mighty good Mr. Frohman. Any comment. Good people good. Good play.
Here again is Professor Jonathan Curva. Shenandoah demonstrates one way in which the subject of war may be treated theatrically billboards announce it as the play of the century. It was that exactly the play of the 19th century. Notice this method it places the romantic love interest will to the foreground. At the same time letting the harsher facts of war serve as a barely visible backdrop. This might be called a genteel approach. And while the play was enjoying its greatest dog America passed into the 1890s the mono decade as Thomas beer call it using mold in the sense of pink trying to be purple. Bronson Howard earned the rather academic sounding title dean of American drama. He was a prolific writer of box office successes most of them are curiosities now they have the flavor of another era of their plots are constructed as though from a blueprint. Somehow they remind one of Victorian
architecture weighed down with ornamental Google ads we can understand why this is so. Howard worked within certain rigid conventions of playmaking and it is worth noting that these conventions coincide exactly with what audiences expected when they went to the theater. His job he felt was to satisfy these expectations. No more Bronson Howard formulated a set of dramatic laws which he contended the playwright could break only if he wanted to risk certain failure. Popular tastes demanded obedience and he said there is no developing the art of playwrighting except in the line of popular taste. In 1886 Mr. Howard delivered lecture before some students at Harvard University. He spoke then of the dramatic laws and how we had followed them and writing his successful play. The banker's daughter one of the most important laws of dramatic construction he said might just be stated if you want a particular thing done
choose a character to do it that an audience will naturally expect to do it in the banker's daughter I want the man to fall in love with my heroine after she was a married woman. Of course I chose a French count for the purpose there in a nutshell is the Bronson Howard series Shenandoah was comfortable on the stages of the nineties. Furthermore please cut from the same pattern and like it drawing the veil over the sordid aspects of over and over again proved popular since the 90s not until nine thousand twenty four when Maxwell Anderson and Lauren Stallings collaborated in the play. What price glory did the theatre dare admit war's brutal truth in the theater and out of it. The war image changes with time. Perhaps only experience will condition man to view it with a clear and unsentimental lie and still seeing to it pour it. But even the most decade gave signs disquieting to some of an impending battle on the
critical front. The struggle between realism and romanticism the consequences of this battle were to be profoundly important for all American literature. We're among the victors on the side of realism were important writers and like Theodore drys or Frank Norris and Stephen Crane all of whom work courageously determined to explore and record the truth about themselves and about the world they lived in a comparison by the way between the plays Shenandoah and Stephen Crane's realistic civil war novel The Red Badge of Courage gives us the two conflicting views exactly. Neither Howard nor crane had experienced war directly at the latter's story. Of all young recruit Henry Fleming reacts while undergoing his baptism of gunfire rings profoundly true. American plays in the main Duggin and clung more stubbornly to the
romantic line than fiction did. On the stage they were in the nineties only occasional victories for the new realism. One of these James a herd managed to score with his Margaret Fleming the drama that brings us to the next and final program in the series America onstage. Programme 12 America on stage produced and recorded by the Wisconsin state broadcasting service under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center. The programs are distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasters consulting for the series. Jonathan W. Kervyn professor of speech at the
- America on stage
- Producing Organization
- University of Wisconsin
- WHA (Radio station : Madison, Wis.)
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- This program presents a radio play of Joseph Jefferson's Rip Van Winkle (1865).
- Selected American plays written prior to 1900. Each is an expression of contemporary popular sentiments. Radio adaptations of theatre performances, using selected excerpts.
- Media type
Actor: Siemering, Bill
Actor: Roberts, Cliff
Actor: Gruenwald, Tom
Actor: Millstone, Joyce
Host: Kerwin, Jonathan W.
Producing Organization: University of Wisconsin
Producing Organization: WHA (Radio station : Madison, Wis.)
Production Manager: Schmidt, Karl
Writer: Jefferson, Joseph, 1829-1905
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 57-6-11 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
- Chicago: “America on stage; "Rip Van Winkle" by Joseph Jefferson,” 1963-11-15, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed September 21, 2021, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-251fnw4x.
- MLA: “America on stage; "Rip Van Winkle" by Joseph Jefferson.” 1963-11-15. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. September 21, 2021. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-251fnw4x>.
- APA: America on stage; "Rip Van Winkle" by Joseph Jefferson. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-251fnw4x