During Valentine’s Day weekend, the Liberty Theatre Company will host its first original dinner theater play, “Pieces of Home,” which is based on real letters from soldiers stationed at the former Camp Stewart during World War II. The camp later became Fort Stewart.
The Liberty Theatre Company was formed by the Hinesville Area Arts Council, according to the council’s website.
The play was written by HAAC Chairwoman Leah Poole, who said she has always loved writing and was inspired when she saw an epistolary play not too long ago.
“When talking to some folks out at MidCoast Regional Airport, we got to talking about World War II and some of the role that then-Camp Stewart played. So I started researching and got hooked,” Poole said. “I found several letters on eBay — of all places — that were from soldiers stationed at the hospital here to their sweethearts, and even one from a ‘pen-pal’ type program where the soldier is obviously lonely and writing to introduce himself to this woman who is a friend of a friend.”
The play, which will last an hour and a half to two hours, will have a plot focused on several stories that include historically accurate information, Poole
“I tried to keep the ‘storytelling’ to a minimum, though, so that you actually get a real idea of what that era was like,” she said. “The importance of epistolary drama is not the staging or props; it’s the drama with which the people tell the tale.”
Poole estimates that she’s collected about 15 letters from which she pulled various aspects of the story. She changed the names of the letter writers.
As she dug through historical correspondence and worn-out photographs, Poole said the one thing that tugged most at her heart was how touching the letters were.
One such letter was from a wounded soldier stationed at a hospital in Liberty County who was trying to start a relationship with a friend of a friend, Poole said. And as someone whose husband has gone through military training where letters were the only form of communication at some points, Poole said she can relate to how difficult it is to go through that sort of situation.
“I know that in today’s culture we have really gotten away from the written word due to technology, and to read something like that and see how truly alone this soldier was is really touching,” she said.
There will be two showings of the play, on Feb. 11 and 12, said HAAC Vice Chairwoman Jennifer Buehler. Tickets will cost $25-$30. The fee includes dinner.
“We have a wonderful group of volunteers within the HAAC/LTC who graciously give their time to make every show a success,” Buehler said.
Auditions will take place for the roles of three females and three males — one as an extra — from 6-7:30 p.m. Jan. 4 and 6.
The minimalist set will include military cots, a rocking chair and a writing table/desk. Donations of old military letters, costumes and clothes from the World War II era will be accepted through the HAAC.
“The Liberty Theatre Group will be doing everything. I am merely the writer,” Poole said. “I hope to help with wherever they need me, but I am pretty clueless when it comes to theater production. I just plan to follow what they tell me to do.”