Pen and Ink illustrated letter From Philip W. Pringle to his wife, Mary Pringle Camp Copeland, PA, April 10, 1864 From the Frank W. Wicks Family collection

To mark the observance of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War,  Soldier, Come Home, a play by Frank W. Wicks based on family Civil War letters, will be available beginning in 2011 for productions by theatre companies, schools, and community groups throughout America.

Wicks, a founding member of the Long Wharf Theater and a theatre professional since 1958, transformed the letters of his great-grandparents, Philip and Mary Pringle, into a dramatic stage presentation. Mary Pringle wrote to her husband from Armagh, Pennsylvania, while he responded from several major Civil War battle sites, including The Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, the siege of Petersburg, and Appomattox.

In 1950, the long-forgotten letters, written from 1859 -1865, were discovered in a shoe box in the attic of the home of Wicks’ grandparents, John S. Wicks and Sadie Pringle Wicks, in South Fork, Pennsylvania. Wicks’ father, Frank Wicks, Sr., began to transcribe the letters. After his father’s death, Wicks continued the project and began work on Soldier, Come Home.

“I was struck from the beginning by the emotional content of the letters,” Wicks said. “They were filled with conflicts, complicated relationships, humor, enormous difficulties and struggles for survival. I felt that the energy of the letters, plus their historical importance, would make for a dramatic presentation.”

Soldier, Come Home has been playing to sold-out houses since its premiere performance in Brunswick, Maine in May 2002. The play also had a successful Off-Broadway presentation in New York City. For the opening performance, critics said, “Soldier, Come Home played to enraptured audiences. The script, plus the acting, staging, lighting and music produced an amazing, intimate view of history. This is a theater experience not to be missed.”

The play is performed as reader’s theatre by 5 actors using minimal sets, lights and costumes. Soldier, Come Home has been presented by small professional and amateur theatre companies, high schools and colleges, historical societies, and Civil War Roundtables.  The play runs one hour with no intermission.

For a copy of the script and royalty information, log on to civilwarplay.com

For framed, finely reproduced poster-size letters log on here

To observe the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War

Soldier, Come Home opens April 12, 2011 at GreenMan Theatre Troupe, Elmhurst, IL

Philip Pringle

Union Stationery From Martin Pringle, Jr. to his brother, Philip W. Pringle Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn NY, February 19, 1862 From the Frank W. Wicks Family collection

“On Friday evening, a couple hundred people gathered in the Sanctuary for the dramatic performance of “Soldier, Come Home”. The play was written by Frank Wicks, and was based on letters written by his great-grandparents, Philip and Mary Pringle, during the Civil War. The play starred Rock Bergeron, Jack Mahoney, Jessica Peck, Bill Steele and Hamish Strong. The male players were dressed in tuxedoes, as opposed to period costumes, which kept the focus on the letters, and the emotions exuded in them. Jessica Peck wore a stunning dress, and delivered a dramatic performance. I very much enjoyed this theater project; I even sat in the pew once occupied by Joshua and Fannie Chamberlain, and their children.

A description of the play as part of “Chamberlain Days” submitted by Bobby Grenier of the North Lake County Florida Civil War Round Table.