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"Letters Home" presented at KSC Redfern Arts Center

Christian Blackburn and Lynda Shadrake in "Letters Home"
Christian Blackburn and Lynda Shadrake in "Letters Home"

The Redfern Arts Center at Keene State College will present Griffin Theatre Company in Letters Home, an evocative and engaging play that brings to life authentic letters written by soldiers serving in the Middle East. The play brings the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan front and center without politicizing and gives the audience a powerful portrait of the soldiers’ experiences and what it means to serve our country today.

Letters Home will be performed Wednesday, March 20, at 7:30 p.m. in the Main Theatre of the Redfern Arts Center. A performance for middle and high school students will take place the next day at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, March 21. Tickets to the school performance are $10. Tickets to the evening performance are $25 for the general public; $15 for senior citizens, children, KSC alumni, faculty and staff; and $5 for KSC students. For tickets, call the Redfern Box Office at 603-358-2168 or order online at

A question and answer session will follow each performance with Griffin Theatre Company actors. Leonard and Mary Ann Cowherd of Culpeper, Va., parents of Army 2nd Lt. Leonard M. Cowherd (killed in Iraq in May 2004), whose letters are read in Letters Home, will participate in the Q&A session following the evening performance. The Cowherds were interviewed in the HBO documentary Last Letters Home, which inspired the production of Letters Home.

An exhibit of letters from Keene State students serving in World War II from the Drenan Collection will be displayed in the Redfern lobby. This exhibit is curated by the KSC Alumni Office from letters sent by soldiers to the late KSC English Professor Sprague Drenan.

Letters Home reveals the humanity that lies within the war as seen through the eyes of the men and women fighting it. These letters were written under the most difficult of circumstance and reveal the disorientation of training, deployment, separation from family and loved ones, and combat. The play also includes a small number of letters from the soldiers’ parents – their words being no less important.

The production is inspired by The New York Times Op-Ed Article “The Things They Wrote” and the subsequent HBO documentary Last Letters Home. It additionally uses letters and correspondences from Frank Schaeffer’s books: Voices from the Front, Letters Home from America’s Military Family, Faith of Our Sons and Keeping Faith.

The Chicago Tribune calls Griffin Theatre’s Letters Home “remarkable enough for your mouth to keep dropping open in surprise at the depth and raw frankness of their work.”

Over the past 22 years, Griffin Theatre, based in Chicago, has provided a wide range of work including world and mid-west premieres of acclaimed scripts, critically lauded productions of Shakespeare and original adaptations of novels. Letters Home was one of many Griffin Theatre productions that have been named to Best of the Year lists by Chicago-area critics.

About Redfern Arts Center at Keene State College

The Arts Center is named in honor of Dr. Leo F. Redfern, Keene State College President from 1969 to 1979 for his vision, commitment, and eloquence on behalf of the arts that made funding and construction of the facility a reality. In 1981, KSC inaugurated this new performing arts center, with the goal of providing unforgettable artistic encounters for the campus and community. Since then, the Redfern stage has hosted hundreds of amazing shows, from internationally renowned artists to emerging young talents to KSC’s own student performers. Over the years, the Redfern has expanded its outreach programs, curricular and community partnerships, becoming an indispensable resource for the Keene community and beyond.

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