As a trial lawyer I have made closing arguments before countless juries over the past 4 decades. Because I love to tell stories it was natural for me to become a storyteller. In 1983, I created my persona as “Storyteller Country Joe.”
In 2001 I performed my first solo play 2001: Justice Odyssey at the Orlando Fringe Festival. I was hooked on solo performances.
In 2003 I began to research historical characters and I picked up a book on Ulysses S. Grant and I was amazed with his life story; at the beginning of the Civil War he was a clerk in a leather goods store in Galena, IL and in less than 4 years he wrote out the surrender terms at Appomatax Courthouse.However, I do resemble Ulysses S. Grant. He was a Midwesterner from Ohio and I was from Illinois. We each have blue eyes. When I dye my beard and hair
In fact when I started performing my play and needed to trim my hair and my beard. I would go to my barber and he would trim my hair and beard and compare his handiwork with the likeness of Grant on a $50 bill. (rich barber).
It took me a year of research and writing to create The 40th Reunion Of The Class Of 1843 at the United States military Academy, West Point New York, June 1883.
My first performance on April, 2004 was at a local Historical Society Museum.
Subsequently. I performed weekend shows at a small dinner theater in Winter Park, Florida plus many private groups and associations.
Having determined that I could write and perform other historical characters, I created and perform: Alexander Graham Bell and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Over the years as I would perform General Grant, Civil War enthusiasts suggested that because of my white beard and hair, I should perform General Robert E. Lee in honor of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.
These two men have many things in common; graduates of the United States Military Academy; fought with honor and courage in the Mexican War; devoted family men; and a sincere love of their country.
Although Gen. Grant had left the service for number of years and Gen. Lee continued to make his career in the United States Army they both ended up in head-to-head combat beginning in May of 1864, concluding with the surrender on April 9, 1865 at Appomattox Courthouse.
I try to show General Lee’s anguish over his decision to leave the US Army and fight for his home state of Virginia; and how he so much wanted to win and grant the South its independence.
As for General Grant I try to show his desire to hold the Union together and although he was criticized and called “Butcher” he continued his steadfast push forward to win the war, secure the peace, and save the Union with the final uniting of all the states.
My portrayal of both men in their early sixties provide the audience with glimpses of their childhood and their careers prior to the bombardment of Fort Sumter in April 1861. A look at the glory and agony of their commands during the 4 years of fighting. Finally, how each man worked diligently to reunite this country so that it remains the United States of America.
Often, I am asked: “how can I perform General Lee on one night and General Grant on the next night? I’ll leave my audiences answer that question.
sesquicentennial – The Civil War Remembered will be performed at the CAPITAL FRINGE FESTIVAL July 19 to 26, 2013 at CAOS on F – 923 F Street NW, in Washington, DC.
An Evening With General Ulysses S. Grant” at the 40th reunion of the Class of 1843 at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. General Grant recounts his early life, his military career; and his relationship with General Robert E. Lee.
Sunday, 7/21 at 12:00 Noon
Tuesday, 7/23 at 8:30 PM
Friday, 7/26 at 8:00 PM
Reflections of General Robert E. Lee at Washington College, Lexington, VA in July, 1870 as he reflects on his time as an Army Engineer, his long military career, and his decision to lead the South through four years of fighting the Civil War.
Friday, 7/19 at 7:00 PM
Saturday, 7/20 at 12:45 PM
Wednesday 7/24 at 8:15 PM