Leander Stillwell

Asplendid Stage Left Theatre premiere four years ago, Leander Stillwell is a labor of love by a die-hard Civil War buff. Chicago playwright David Rush drew on the 1915 memoirs of the title character, a naive Illinois farmer-soldier who slowly wised up to the waste of the War Between the States. In Rush’s saga young Stillwell’s loss of innocence parallels a broken nation’s discovery of, to paraphrase Lincoln, the worser angels of our nature. Rush’s fast-moving, detailed story builds Stillwell’s battle anecdotes into a stirring tale told from the trenches rather than headquarters; Drew Martin’s surging 1992 staging had the same immediacy as Ken Burns’s 1990 PBS documentary, The Civil War. Now Martin has revived the play for an engagement next month at Los Angeles’s Lee Strasberg Creative Center. This weekend’s “final dress performances” are fund-raisers for that production. Among the six actors reprising their original roles are Don Tieri as Leander’s fire-eating commander and Trent Harrison Smith as his unsought enemy. Griffin Theatre Company, Calo Theatre, 5404 N. Clark, 883-8830. August 23 and 24: Friday-Saturday, 7:30 PM (preceded by a reception at 6:30 PM). $30.

–Lawrence Bommer

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo of three men fighting from Leander Stillwell.