Note: The Play is showing at The Port Columbus Naval War Center in  Columbus, Georgia (Click here for information)  July 13 & 14th 2001.portcolumbus.gif (9077 bytes)

Hunley play explores perceptions of Civil War

By: DOTTIE ASHLEY      Of the Post and Courier staff
Originally Published on: 5/27/01

   
            
     William Thomas-Moore in the play "Romancing the Hunley" this weekend on the Yorktown. The two-person play is presented in docudrama style.
                    
     With new discoveries revealed almost daily concerning the H.L. Hunley Confederate submarine, it is fitting that "Romancing the Hunley," an historically based, but original one-act play, will be performed on board the USS Yorktown this weekend.
     Local actors and writers William G. Thomas-Moore and Diane Scher created this two-person play, which is presented in docudrama style. Over the past year, they have performed it for audiences at the College of Charleston, Grace Episcopal Church, the S.C. Aquarium, The Citadel and other venues in the area.
     The action takes place Feb. 20, 1864, three days after the sinking of the federal blockade ship USS Housatonic in Charleston Harbor. After signaling Confederate sailors on Sullivan's Island that it had rammed the Housatonic with a 90-pound explosive charge, the Hunley mysteriously disappeared.
     "Romancing the Hunley" is set in the parlor of the Charleston home of the fictional character Dr. Moore, the town physician who takes care of the medical needs of the Hunley crew. Thomas-Moore and Scher have used a bit of time travel, as Scher portrays a female reporter from the year 2001, who has arrived to interview the doctor about the Hunley's crew members and the submarine's disappearance. This staging contrasts what actually happened in 1864 to the present-day perceptions of what happened in the Civil War.
     Scher says the hour long play is reminiscent of the 1950s and 1960s television program, "You Are There," with host Walter Cronkite.
     Thomas-Moore, a local longtime Civil War aficionado, has acted in the films, "The Patriot," "The Hunley," and "The Legend of Bagger Vance," all filmed in the Lowcountry. He has been lecturing on the Hunley and the Civil War since 1997, and for 35 years has been a professional master model shipbuilder and historian.
     After researching the construction of the Hunley, Thomas-Moore discovered that the full-scale model of the Hunley in front of the Charleston Museum, the State Museum and the Square in Mobile, Ala., were not actually patterned after the Hunley at all, but another vessel, the Pioneer II.
     Thomas-Moore has created a number of models of the Hunley, one of which has been on display on the second floor of the Charleston Museum and one presented by Friends of the Hunley to state Sen. Glenn F. McConnell, Hunley Commission chairman. Thomas-Moore also has his models of the Hunley on permanent display around the country, including the Department of Internal Revenue in Washington, D.C., and the Carter Presidential Library in Atlanta.
     Scher, who worked as an artist in California for many years, is making her first stage appearance, but has used her right-brain drawing techniques to conduct stress-management workshops around the Lowcountry for the past four years.
     "Romancing the Hunley" will be presented by Patriot's Point Naval and Maritime Museum at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday in the Smokey Stover Memorial Theater on board the USS Yorktown. Tickets are $12 general admission and $8 for children ages 11 and younger. To reserve tickets, call 881-5976 or purchase them at the Patriot's Point Naval & Maritime Museum.
    
    
                               


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