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History comes to life through reader's theatre piece at History Museum

Hannah Swayze • Updated Apr 9, 2018 at 10:29 AM

History came to life in an innovative and mind-capturing way in the reader's theatre piece, "I Have Been in the Front Line Trenches and in No Man's Land," on Sunday, produced by the Heritage Alliance.

A one-time production at the Jonesborough/Washington County History Museum, "I Have Been in the Front Line Trenches and in No Man's land," is a reader's theatre piece arranged and created by Anne Mason, Heritage Alliance's special projects coordinator. It brings to life the story of what life was like in Washington County during The Great War, of WWI as we know it today.

The pieces consist of primary sources from stories published various newspapers at the time of the war that included news stories, advertisements, poems and letters home from soldiers. It tells the story of what life was like on the home front, buying liberty bonds and stamps, Germans living in the area have to register with the government and receiving letters from the soldiers fighting in the war.

Mason said that while putting together the current exhibit on WWI, there was many leftover sources that there was no room for, so they became this piece. 

"Not only do you have tensions overseas on the battle fields, but you've got a lot of tension here at home," said Mason "Because it's a huge lifestyle change to fund this war. So, we really just wanted to show everything that went into the war effort."

The play consisted of six actors, Joel VanEaton, Kyle Mason, Dana Kehs, Anna VanEaton, Jerry Muelver who are all volunteers that have worked with the alliance before, plus Mason, herself as the narrator.

The Heritage Alliancem who prodcued the play, is a non-profit organization with the goal of preserving the artchitectural, historical and cultural heritage fo the region. They have a part in many museums in Washignton County and are no stranger to using theatre to educator the populous.

As part of their active preservation program for the Old Jonesborough Cemetary, the Heritage Alliance annually produces a play called "A Spot on the Hill" that takes place in the cemetery itself, along with other theatrical programs.

Montantie said that that these productions are just another way to communicate the history of the area creatively. These sort of programs are for people who might not like to read text in a museum.

"It's another way to reach and interact with an audience to give them a taste not only of the facts of our history but also the feeling of our history," said Montantie.

For now, this the only planned production of "I Have Been in the Front Line Trenches and in No Man's Land" but Montantie said that they plan on doing an encore production of a play they've done in the past entitled, "With These Hands" in early August.

For more information on The Heritage Alliance, the Jonesborough/Washington County History Museum or local history in general, visit www.heritageall.com

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