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Last play performance ends WaynesboroFest

July 07, 2003|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

Against an abstract set of panels and platforms, the cast of "Waynesboro Under the Confederate Flag" breathed life into accounts of the 15 days in late June and early July of 1863 when the rebel army controlled the town during the Gettysburg campaign.

A Confederate army with high hopes marched in playing "Dixie" and "Maryland, My Maryland," but it was a decimated force that retreated through the town after the battle. Narrator Kay Yaukey noted, however, "the procession was no rout."

A full house of about 200 people attended Sunday's performance at Trinity United Church of Christ, the last of four shows and the final event of the second triennial WaynesboroFest, a weeklong celebration of the town's past and present.

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"Spectacular," said Jean Brinser, a resident of Quincy Village. "I was surprised at all the information it had in it. I came to see it twice."

"I had to spend three months just on the research," said H. Clayton Moyer, who wrote the "dramalogue." Another three months went into writing the piece, followed by two months of rehearsals by the cast.

Since it consisted almost entirely of monologues by the 14 members of the cast, Moyer said most of the rehearsing was done individually. Still, memorizing several pages of dialogue was no simple feat for the cast of nonprofessionals.

"I guess I really started studying at the end of May," said Dennis Shockey, whose day job involves newspaper advertising.

He portrayed Gen. Robert E. Lee and had to speak a part about as long as Hamlet's soliloquy.

"We shed a lot of blood, sweat and tears over that speech," said his wife, Kim, a banker who played the role of an unnamed townswoman.

Moyer said he used the writings of local historian J.H. Stoner, along with local folklore, to capture the attitudes of Waynesboro residents toward the southern invaders. Carl Sandburg's biography of Abraham Lincoln and "Gettysburg - A Journey in Time" by William A. Frassanito were other sources.

All but three of the characters were fictional composites, according to Moyer. Lee and Lincoln, played by Dr. Gregory Lyon-Loftus, needed no introduction, but the other named character was John Phillips, a bank cashier played by attorney Andrew Benchoff.

Phillips recounted how he loaded up the contents of the town's bank and drove it through much of south-central Pennsylvania while the Confederates were on the march.

There is some disagreement over whether Lee actually came through Waynesboro, but according to one source recounted in the play, the Confederate commander stopped briefly in the square and spoke with resident George W. Davis, who served with Lee in the Mexican War.

According to the play, the townspeople and the Confederates got along fairly well during the occupation. Kim Shockey's character noted that ovens were working day and night to feed the nearly starving rebels, and a young woman played by Kristen Adams recalled the gentlemanly behavior of most of the enemy soldiers.

Although it was a community project, many of the cast members had previous experience with the Trinity Players, an acting troupe founded by Moyer in 1963 when he was pastor.

The church also supplied all but one of the costumes from the extensive collection of garments and accessories it has assembled over the past four decades.

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