New Play Commemorates 100th Anniversary of World War I Christmas Truce
Carter Bratton, Blair Godshall & Patrick McWilliams.
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, KY – On Christmas Eve, 1914, two soldiers – one British, the other German – meet by chance as they gather straw to keep warm in their respective trenches along the Western Front. They eye each other with trepidation, but realize their common enemy is the cold.
Thus begins SOLDIER’S CHRISTMAS, a new play that commemorates one of the most extraordinary events of World War I, in which soldiers on opposing sides laid down their weapons and celebrated the holiday with each other, exchanging gifts and singing carols. The play, by award-winning playwright Phil Paradis, will premiere December 12-21 at Northern Kentucky University.
“I heard about the Christmas Truce from one of my uncles, when I was a boy,” said Paradis, who began researching the subject more than 10 years ago. “It was an incredible story that stayed with me. These soldiers were sworn enemies, but they stopped killing each other long enough to celebrate Christmas.”
Though inspired by true events, SOLDIER’S CHRISTMAS is a fictionalized account of the Christmas Truce. The characters are composites of soldiers’ loved ones and the thousands of troops who took part in the celebration along the Western Front.
SOLDIER’S CHRISTMAS was a finalist in the Kentucky Theatre Association Roots of the Bluegrass New Play Contest. He received a 2014 Kentucky New Play Series Award for his play SUNNY SIDE and his play FOOTPRINTS OF THE POLAR BEAR took top honors in New Edgecliff Theatre’s Cincinnati Director’s Competition. Of the dozens of plays he’s written, Paradis considers SOLDIER’S CHRISTMAS his most important work.
“In the midst of war, it gradually dawned on British and German soldiers that their similarities were greater than their differences,” he said. “I think that’s what resonates here and why this is such an unforgettable story. ”
A production of Actors & Playwrights Collaborative with New Edgecliff Theatre, SOLDIER’S CHRISTMAS is written by Philip Paradis and directed by Robert Allen. The cast includes Carter Bratton, Jared Earland, Aaron Epstein, Michael Gettinger, Alexa Glaser, Blair Godshall, Robert Macke, Patrick McWilliams, Jeff Miller, Emily Mohler, Torie Pate, and Quinn Stiefbold. Tickets are $22 for adults, $20 for seniors and $18 for students. For more information, visit www.Cincyticket.com or call 1-888-428-7311. More information about the play is available at www.soldierschristmas.net.
Inspired by the historical Christmas Truce, SOLDIER’S CHRISTMAS is an epic tale of war and peace set in Belgium in late December of 1914, dramatizing the Great War’s effects on front‐line soldiers as well as on their families at home. This play with song presents the personal stories of disenchanted, battle‐ weary British and German soldiers who throw down their rifles, leave the mud of the trenches, and join hands in one of history’s most astonishing Christmas celebrations.
THE FIELD COMMANDER
SOLDIER’S CHRISTMAS is directed by Robert Allen, an award‐winning actor and director of numerous plays, stage readings, radio recreations, industrial films, and commercials. A teacher at Northern Kentucky University and the Preparatory Department at the University of Cincinnati College‐Conservatory of Music, Allen feels that SOLDIER’S CHRISTMAS imparts a vital message that has not lost significance over the past century.
“This piece tells a story of universal significance,” says Allen. “It’s a timely parable of war and peace dramatizing the choices we all face. SOLDIER’S shows the impact of World War I on the lives of front‐line soldiers and their families on the home‐front. With plenty of heart, humor, and gravitas, it’s a wonderful alternative holiday play for modern audiences‐‐a new Christmas classic.”
FROM THE BATTLEFIELD TO THE BOARDS
Playwright Philip Paradis has taken his time perfecting the script of SOLDIER’S CHRISTMAS, researching and cultivating it over nine years with readings at Cincinnati Playwrights Initiative, the Clifton Performance Theatre and most recently at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati (2014). The play was selected a finalist in the Kentucky Theatre Association Roots of the Bluegrass New Play Contest, one of the latest in a series of writing accolades for Fort Thomas resident Paradis. His play SUNNY SIDE was selected for the Kentucky New Play Series and was staged at the 2014 Kentucky State Fair. Paradis also received an Audience Choice Award for his writing from Point Loma Actors Studio in San Diego, and the premiere of his play FOOTPRINTS OF THE POLAR BEAR took top honors in New Edgecliff Theatre’s Cincinnati Director’s Competition.
A full bio of Paradis follows this release.
CINCINNATI REMEMBERS WORLD WAR I
Cincinnati Remembers World War I is a year‐long community arts celebration of the Great War’s centenary and sponsored by Cincinnati Opera. A part of the Imperial War Museum’s (U.K.) global series of events honoring the centenary of the First World War, the festival has included performances and exhibitions by the Cincinnati Opera, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Museum Center and Playhouse in the Park, among many others. For more information about Cincinnati Remembers World War I, please visit www.cincinnatiopera.org/wwi.
TICKETING & VENUE
SOLDIER’S CHRISTMAS will include six performances:
- Friday, December 12, 8pm
- Saturday, December 13, 8pm
- Sunday, December 14, 3pm
- Friday, December 19, 8pm
- Saturday, December 20, 8pm
- Sunday, December 21, 3pm
All performances take place in the Corbett Theatre in the Fine Arts Building at Northern Kentucky University, Highland Heights, Kentucky.
Tickets are general admission:
$22 Adults $20 Seniors $18 Students
For Groups of Eight or More, call for discount details 513‐241‐5154.
Ticketing fees will apply.
ABOUT ACTORS & PLAYWRIGHTS COLLABORATIVE
Actors & Playwrights Collaborative is a group of local actors, directors, and playwrights dedicated to the development of new scripts and to the production of new stage works. For more information, visit www.soldierschristmas.net.
ABOUT NEW EDGECLIFF THEATRE
The mission of New Edgecliff Theatre is to serve the Greater Cincinnati area by presenting in an intimate setting theatre pieces designed to engage the human and thoughtful in all of us. We focus on contemporary work by lesser‐known, new, or infrequently produced artists that deserve attention. Our vision is to establish a unique connection between performer and audience, where social and political questions are fearlessly posed. NET reaches out to a broad cross‐demographic audience with dynamic presentations. We stress intimate performing spaces and minimalist sets in our effort to provide the most immediate and unfettered artistic experience. For more information, visit www.newedgecliff.com
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PHILIP PARADIS (PLAYWRIGHT)
Philip Paradis (playwright) has enjoyed productions of fifteen of his one‐act plays in LA, San Diego, Cincinnati, Newport, KY and Newport, RI. His awards include a Kentucky New Play Series Award (2014) and a Point Loma Actors Theatre Audience Choice Award (2013). Phil’s FOOTPRINTS OF THE POLAR BEAR, directed by Arnie Shayne, won the 2008 Cincinnati Directors Competition. SOLDIER’S CHRISTMAS was a finalist in the Kentucky Theatre Association’s Roots of the Bluegrass New Play Competition in 2011. Mr. Paradis is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America. He is a former university professor who served for many years on the faculties of Northern Kentucky University, Western Carolina University, Iowa State University, and Oklahoma State University. Mr. Paradis lives in Fort Thomas and has worked as a substitute teacher for several years in Northern Kentucky public schools. He is the author of three poetry collections: Tornado Alley, From Gobbler’s Knob, and Something of Ourselves. Over 150 of his poems have appeared in various magazines and quarterlies, including College English, Poetry, The American Scholar, and Kansas Quarterly.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CHRISTMAS TRUCE
Prior to Christmas 1914, after five months of war, there were some peace initiatives. The Open Christmas Letter was a public plea for peace addressed “To the Women of Germany and Austria,” and signed by 101 British women suffragists. Pope Benedict XV on December 7th asked the heads of state for an official truce, but his proposal was rebuffed. Subsequently on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, along the Western Front, a series of unofficial truces occurred in “no‐man’s‐land.” German and British soldiers exchanged seasonal greetings and songs between their trenches. Many war‐weary soldiers from both sides ventured into no‐man’s‐land, where they exchanged tobacco, food and souvenirs. Several meetings involved joint burial ceremonies or carol‐singing. Some troops from both sides even played impromptu soccer matches.