Stephen Crane’s classic story of the Civil War comes alive on the stage of the King Central Park amphitheater, 302 Kirby Road in King, as the Stokes County Arts Council presents the community theater production of “The Red Badge of Courage.”
Local actor Colin Anderson portrays Henry Fleming, a young man anxious to join the Union Army. To the innocent Henry, the war is exciting and romantic. Later, swapping stories around the campfire with his fellow troops, the reality of war begins to darken his thoughts. Facing the chaos of combat for the first time, Henry panics and runs. As he ponders his actions, Henry realizes that he will never be the same. He knows that he must discover his own courage, humility and wisdom as he attempts to atone for his moment of cowardice.
To help tell the story, the play utilizes a sort of “Greek chorus” in the form of four female narrators, who move around and through the action on the battlefield and in the soldiers’ encampment. They speak directly to the audience, moving the story forward and reading from actual Civil War letters.
Several times the cast breaks the “fourth wall,” charging into the audience in the heat of battle. The play also uses music from the Civil War to bridge scenes and add dramatic effect.
The look of “The Red Badge of Courage” is especially authentic, thanks to local historian and Civil War reenactor Eric Marshall. Marshall has drawn from his extensive collection of artifacts and replicas to provide the production with uniforms, weapons, flags and other gear, including tents and a wagon.
“Eric has been an invaluable resource for this play,” said director Brack Llewellyn. “He has not only loaned us an incredible amount of props, he has served as our technical advisor, instructing our actors in everything from terminology to handling a rifle to how Civil War soldiers saluted. Much of the show’s realistic look is because of Eric’s assistance and generosity.”
The script for “The Red Badge of Courage” was adapted from Stephen Crane’s book by Kathryn Schultz Miller and is faithful to the story and language as Crane wrote it. The production is presented without an intermission and runs about one hour.
Performances of “The Red Badge of Courage” are Friday August 26 and Saturday August 27 at 7 p.m. each evening at the King Central Park amphitheater. The rain venue will be Mount Olive Elementary School, 2145 Chestnut Grove Road in King. Concessions will be available at both performances. Attendees should bring blankets or lawn chairs for seating. Tickets are $10.00 for adults and $5.00 for children ages 13-18. Children under age 12 will be admitted free. Tickets and more information are available by calling the Stokes County Arts Council at 336-593-8159 or at www.stokesarts.org.