A Civil War Christmas is a play about Christmas Eve, 1864. A play about the distresses that not only Lincoln, but people around him, dealt with at that time; that touches up the story of recently freed slaves and white people alike. A Civil War Christmas was shockingly brilliant, as creator Paula Vogel intended it to be. The room darkens as the play begins, and there is a silence that falls over the crowd. I sit amongst them and patiently await the seasonal themed production. As the opening song pans out, the audience sees the entire cast and gets a grasp on the concept this play is demonstrating by the diversity that lay in front of them.
Not only does this creation involve the brilliant actors and actresses that play their parts, but also the people above and behind, in the top boxes. They work on projections, lighting, and cues, which are all just as important as the people telling the story. One such team member, Julia Steven, spoke to me of her job on the set. “I love being behind the scenes and working (projection). It’s like I’m a part of the play but I don’t have to be where people can see me; it’s awesome.” Steven, a transfer sophomore here at Frostburg, is a theatre major, and loves being behind the scenes. “It was hard work for the entire tech week when we were rehearsing and stuff; they had to keep stopping to do lines over and over again and I couldn’t even eat anything!” Julia (and other members of the tech crew) worked hard, but in the end it all paid off.
Kai White, a senior, and also the proud player of Mrs. Keckley in A Civil War Christmas, says, “I’m very proud of my work and the work of the cast. Race is a sensitive subject and I feel as if the department handled it with class. The cast works very well together and we are under great direction. I’m very sad to see this show end.” The subject of race is a big part in A Civil War Christmas, but according to Kai, and as the audience could see very plainly, the people involved with the theatre department on all ends were supportive on this touchy subject. Kai herself played a dynamic character, and gave a dramatic, explosive performance matched by no one.
Victoria Miller’s impression of this piece was definitely positive. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” she tells me. “It’s like a whole different side of what the Civil War was about; it got way more personal than I expected it to be.” Miller is a freshman at Frostburg and agrees that this show will leave an imprint on people’s judgments and perceptions of color and class.
Altogether, this performance was a fantastic experience for those involved: from the actors to the directors, the tech crew to the audience, it certainly was a dedicated involvement from those tangled in the web of A Civil War Christmas.