In Flanders Fields

While doing research for the original version of this performance piece, I first found the war-time letters and poems of Alan Seeger, and later the letters of Victor Emanuel Chapman. Selections from Chapman's eventually suggested an overall structure for the piece, providing both a story-line and a framework in which to feature songs and poems of the period.

 

Victor Chapman's father John Jay Chapman, a prominent writer of the era who has fallen into undeserved obscurity, edited and published his son's letters in 1917. The elder Chapman's memoir of his son serves as preface to the book. In reworking “In Flanders Fields” into a one-man format, in which I portray John Jay Chapman, and for which the 100+ year old books, letters, and newspaper rotogravures pictured above are stage props, I began using selections from Chapman's memoir as explanatory narrative between some of his son's letters, and also interspersed a few excerpts from Chapman's own war-inspired poetry where appropriate. The one-man version of “In Flanders Fields” includes more of Alan Seeger's poetry.

 

This program is ideal for a small venue, whether it be a black-box theatre, theatre lobby, church hall, or even a good-sized living room, drawing room, or library in a home. Any location that can give the feeling of John Jay Chapman reminiscing with a group of friends, recounting his son's experience in the Great War, sharing from his letters, reading poems, and singing songs of the era, including five composed by George Butterworth, an Englishman who died in battle.

 

The only requirements are:

 

  • A serviceable piano;
  • A desk (preferred, but a small table will suffice) and chair for the performer;
  • An additional armchair or small sofa would be welcome but not necessary;
  • Sufficient comfortable chairs for the attendees

 

If you are interested in arranging a performance of “In Flanders Fields,” please click this link to send an email requesting further information.

 

The program currently includes the selections listed below (poem titles in Small-Caps, song titles in italics), bound together with excerpts from Chapman's memoir, and selections from his son's letters.

 

 

 

In Flanders Fields

 

(Running time is one hour, if given without intermission.)

 

La Marseillaise

Music and words by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle

 

Ode on the Sailing of Our Troops for France

John Jay Chapman

 

We’re Here, Lafayette, We’re Here

Addison Dart & Edward Auten, Jr.

 

In Flanders Fields

John McCrae

 

Belgium

Edith Wharton

 

When I was one-and-twenty

Words by A.E. Housman, music by George Butterworth

 

Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!

Words Josef Mohr, music by Franz Gruber

 

Such, Such Is Death

Charles Hamilton Sorley

 

Sonnet 9: On Returning from the Front After Leave

Alan Seeger

 

I Have a Rendezvous with Death

Alan Seeger

 

I Didn’t Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier

Words by Alfred Bryan, Music by Al Piantadosi

 

In Time of War

John Jay Chapman

 

Over There

Words and music by George M. Cohan

 

(A short intermission may be placed at this point.)

 

Dulce et Decorum

Wilfred Owen

 

Loveliest of Trees

Housman/Butterworth

 

The Anxious Dead

John McCrae

 

In Flanders Fields

Music by Charles Ives

(Alternate setting by John Phillip Sousa)

 

In Time of War

John Jay Chapman

 

Spring in War-Time

Sara Teasdale

 

Sonnet 2

Alan Seeger

 

On the Idle Hill of Summer

Housman/ Butterworth

 

May 1917

John Jay Chapman

 

Is My Team Ploughing?

Housman/Butterworth

 

Absolution

Siegfried Sassoon

 

The Lads in Their Hundreds

Housman/Butterworth

 

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