5 Questions with Ingrid Madelayne

In the Capital Region, you can find performances on stages, in parks, in cemeteries, and this weekend on a battlefield.

On Saturday and Sunday, August 5th and 6th, the Friends of the Bennington Battlefield, in association with Bennington Community Theatre, will present “Voices of the Fallen” at the Bennington Battlefield State Historic Site located on RT-67 in Hoosick, NY. Three performances will be presented each day.

Ingrid Madelayne

“Voices of the Fallen” is a theatrical and historical experience grounded in research. Historically dressed actors will bring to life people from both sides of the conflict who lost their lives at the Battle of Bennington, giving voice to those who did not live to tell their stories.

Among these is the Mohawk leader of the Native contingent that joined the British on their ill-fated raid on Bennington (played by Mohawk actor Steven Thompson). Other characters include the leaders of the German and Loyalist forces in the Battle, Patriot Militiamen, a Black private in Warner’s Green Mountain Boys, and a Brunswick lieutenant who was among the last to fall and who hears his wife’s voice through her letters (translated from the original German).

The program is directed by Ingrid Madelayne and written by Phil Holland, Ingrid Madelayne, and Peter Schaaphok.

PW: Tell us about your writing background. I know you’ve had a script in ConfettiFest, yes?

IM: I started out doing theatre in my youth, but soon discovered historical reenacting, which fed a love of history, costuming and theatre in one all-consuming package. I wrote lots and lots of articles, programming, and semi-scholarly “how-to’s” for various reenactment & museum groups.

I got back into theatre about 9 years ago, and, encouraged by pals at SLCA, I put my hand to script-writing during the pandemic. Wrote my first one-act,“Grace Notes,”which was produced by ConfettiFest and won a TANYS award for playwriting. That was encouraging.

PW: How is writing a monologue for these soldiers different from writing a play?

IM: First of all, I love monologues! (I’ve long admired Ruth Draper, perhaps the best monologist of the 20th C.) I had the opportunity to write and perform for the “Famous Ladies’ Tea” a couple of times, and it just felt right for me: Historical Research! Theatrical Interpretation! Period Costume! Yay!

In 2021, I co-wrote, as well as directed, “Voices from the Grave,” performed at Bennington Old First Church Cemetery. I figured that the key to these kinds of monologues is re-creating a personality, finding the “hook” that the life story can hang on. Facts must inform the character of course, but don’t need to be dwelled on. And unlike a play where plot is at least as important as character (well, usually), in monologues, the narrative arc serves the character.

PW: What has been the greatest challenge in writing these monologues?

IM: Um, everyone dies. In violent, nasty ways. The audience knows this. After all, it is “Voices of the Fallen,” the ones who didn’t get to tell their own stories, because they died. How to make this uplifting, yet respectful of the sacrifice they made, in blank verse no less? By trying to find the humanity of these men, gleaned from the scraps of information we have from eye-witnesses– the nobility, the frailty, the universal quality of their very specific stories, that was a challenge.

PW: What would you like audiences to come away with from the “Voices of the Fallen” experience?

IM: For all its soaring and heartfelt rhetoric about freedom, liberty and independence, the American Revolution was indeed a civil war; people of good conscience fought and died on both sides. One of the “Fallen” characters laments “how easily the tender ties of kin and sympathy are severed” by deep political divisions, leading to tragic results. Perhaps every generation needs to be reminded of this.

PW: What is a play that changed your life and how?

IM: Lauren Gunderson’s “Emilie, la Marquise du Chatelet Defends her Life.” I saw it at Confetti Stage, directed by Laura Darling. I was just gobsmacked. That is the kind of theatrical experience I want to see, that I want to create. Beautifully written, big ideas, highlighting poignant figures from history who deserve attention, and yeah, period costumes.

“Voices of the Fallen” runs this weekend 8/5 & 8/6 at the Bennington Battlefield in Hoosick Falls, NY. Performances will be offered at 2:30 pm, 4:00 pm and 6:30 pm each day. Groups of 20 audience members will be guided from one Historical Character to the next. Guests should be prepared to walk. Some chairs and parasols will be available. Each tour lasts under an hour.

These performances are rain or shine. In case of heavy rain, guests will gather indoors near 30 Caretakers Road, Hoosick Falls, NY 12090.

 Space is limited. Tickets are $15 and available via the Bennington Performing Arts Center, www.bpacvt.org. For more information, call 518-860-9094.

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