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NJ State Museum
PO Box 530
Trenton, NJ 08625

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Free Staged Reading of “A Year in the Trenches”
“A Year in the Trenches”

The New Jersey State Museum will host a staged reading of “A Year in the Trenches.” The script for this world premiere, written by James Rana and developed with Gayle Stahlhuth, Artistic Director of the East Lynne Theater Company, was created to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the United States entering World War I. This unique reading was commissioned by the New Jersey Historical Commission and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and is supported in part by the New Jersey State Museum Foundation through a grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission.

This FREE performance is open to the public and requires no reservation. Patrons are encouraged to visit the Museum before the reading to experience the new exhibition, Embattled Emblems: Posters and Flags of the First World War.

The story introduces Charles Edward Dilkes (1887-1968), poet Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918), pilot Kenneth Russell Unger (1898-1979), nurse Amabel Scharff Roberts (1891-1918), "Hello Girl" Grace Banker (1892-1960) and other Americans who went to Europe when the United States entered World War I a hundred years ago. The story is based on Dilkes' book, "Remembering World War I: An Engineer's Diary of the War," and other historical sources. Dilkes was born in Philadelphia, but moved to New Jersey after the war. Live music from the time period is slated to be performed throughout the reading as well.

The cast includes Jennie Bissell, Osborn Focht, Ryan Genauldi, Matt Baxter Luceno, Mike Newman, and Tara Reuter. Actors in this production have a variety of creative backgrounds, including performing in regional theater, films, and on Broadway.

“The World War I Centennial offers us an opportunity to re-examine a period of history that seems relevant to today. Questions regarding how the U.S. should engage with the rest of the world, the role of women in society, the treatment of immigrants, the nature of modern warfare, and the meaning of patriotism challenged citizens of 1917, just as they bedevil us now,” said Sara R. Cureton, Executive Director of the New Jersey Historical Commission. “‘A Year in the Trenches’ shines a spotlight on how some New Jerseyans confronted these issues and brings us greater understanding of both the past and present. The Historical Commission is delighted to join with the New Jersey State Council on the Arts in exploring this pivotal period of our history through this engaging new play.”

“We are proud to co-commission this new play with the New Jersey Historical Commission. Bringing the struggles of the past to life on stage is one of the countless ways that art can bring empathy and understanding to the challenges of the present. By doing so, it paves the way to a better future,” added Nick Paleologos, Executive Director of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.