Written by Dwight Bachman
Willimantic, CT -- Members of the Theatre Program at Eastern Connecticut State University are going on tour with the original Reader's Theatre play, "The Norwich Nine," the story of nine Norwich men who fought in the Civil War and died in a prisoner of war camp in Andersonville, GA.
The Norwich Nine, produced and performed by Eastern students, will be presented to 300 students twice on Jan. 7 at Norwich Free Academy - at 9 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. - and to 100 students at 9 a.m. on Jan. 8 at Windham High School in Willimantic.
In 1866, officials from Norwich traveled to the infamous Andersonville Prison in Georgia to retrieve the dead bodies of the Civil War soldiers. The men and boys were disinterred, returned to Norwich and honored for their service before being buried in Yantic Cemetery.
"We are excited to bring the show to Norwich, in particular, as it is the town's local history," said Ellen Brodie, director of theatre at Eastern, who directed the play with theatre major Shane Williams Kegler '10. "And Windham High School is where one of our actors, Michael Lessard '00, an Eastern alumnus in history and theatre, is a full-time history teacher and a graduate student at Eastern."
Several other Eastern students and faculty collaborated on the play. It was written by Eastern Communication Professor Edmond Chibeau and alumnus Matt Hulten '06. History Professor Barbara Tucker and history students Heather Brine '10, Kelly Harrison '09, Katie Lewinstein '09, Elizabeth Tefft '09 and Jennifer Vickers '08 conducted original research on the play.
"The results of the collaboration were a surprise," said Tucker. "Some of the men who were reported to have died at Andersonville and who have a gravestone at the Memorial Gun site did not die in the Civil War. They were found alive decades later living in New England."
Last year, "The Norwich Nine" was part of a series of Eastern events created to celebrate the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth. David Regan, playing Lincoln, and Luke Boyd '09 will be guest actors in the play.