A collaboration between Amy Valentine of Gorham Arts Alliance and the Gorham High School (GHS) Drama Club resulted in an outstanding final celebration of Gorham’s participation in Local & Legendary: Maine in the Civil War on Wednesday, June 11.
Directed by GraceAnn Burns and Kevin Lombard, Gambo – The Struggle of a Boy Torn Between His Family and His Country was an original script penned by Burns, Lombard and fellow GHS student Andrew York. The play was performed by members of the GHS Drama Club and overseen by club advisor Eileen Avery.
Local & Legendary team members Amy Valentine and Don Wescott provided historical background and advice to the playwrights as they developed the script, which included information from Gorham author Maurice Whitten’s book The Gunpowder Mills of Maine. Amy and Don, along with Maine Humanities Council theater consultant David Greenham, assisted with rehearsals. The final result was a well-researched, tightly written, thoughtful presentation before an enthralled and appreciative audience.
The play focuses on “young Silas McLaughlin (who) wants to join his brothers in the fight against the south, but instead is forced to stay behind to work at the Gambo Gunpowder Mill.” The play is loosely based on material found in the Windham Historical Society archives: a young man from Parsonsfield was dragged home from the train station by his father when he was running off to enlist to fight the for the north in the Civil War.
In 40 minutes the young playwrights managed to include sound historical facts, reasons for and against enlisting in the war, life at home and on the farm, working conditions in the mill, and the changes war wrought in a small town.
Cast members Collin Young, Jeffrey McNally, Bailey Daigle, Katie Stickney, Becca Cupps, Joe Lambert, Jamie Juskiewicz, Nicole Caruso, and Elsa Alexanderin did a marvelous job of portraying life during the Civil War in Gorham.
After the performance, the authors and cast discussed the play and answered audience questions. The audience was particularly interested in the history of the mill and what the students learned from being a part of this project. Gorham Community Access Television filmed the performance and will be editing it prior to making it available for streaming in early July.
Congratulations to Local & Legendary team members Amy Valentine, Don Wescott and Kathy Stevens for a job well done!
And thanks to Janet Lyons, Consultant Project Coordinator, Maine Humanities Council, for submitting this report.