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City Lights Celebrates the Centennial of the WWI Christmas Truce With World-Premiere Play TRUCE: A CHRISTMAS WISH FROM THE GREAT WAR

A hundred years ago on the battlefields of France, World War I soldiers on both sides of the lines set down their weapons in an impromptu Christmas ceasefire. They shared handshakes, cigarettes, rations, and soccer games. They sang carols together.

Now a World Premiere play by two local playwrights celebrates this historic-and heartbreakingly brief- episode of peace, while offering the age-old holiday wish of peace on Earth. Truce: A Christmas Wish from the Great War, written by Kit Wilder & Jeffrey Bracco and directed by Wilder, runs Nov. 20 through Dec. 21 at 529 S. Second St. in downtown San Jose.

Truce draws on a wealth of historical letters and war accounts. Timeless carols create a poignant backdrop, with new arrangements by musical director George Psarras (who played the title role in Amadeus earlier this year). This sweeping script blends personal stories from both sides of the lines. From England: the gentle soldier-poet Tommy (Drew Benjamin Jones) and his wife Maggie (Allison Meneley) he must leave behind. On the German side: the determined warrior Georg (Max Tachis) and courageous battlefield nurse Anna (Caitlin Papp).

Playwrights Wilder and Bracco have been working together onstage for decades-including both appearing in Art, City Lights' most recent show-but this is their first joint writing project.

Wilder, City Lights' associate artistic director, has trained in London with the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and with members of the Royal Shakespeare Company. He has appeared in many Bay Area and regional theater productions as well as ads and films, and has taught master classes in acting, stage combat, Shakespeare, and musical theater. As a writer, he has penned adaptations of Alexandre Dumas' The Three Musketeers and Twenty Years After, Gabriel Sabatini's Scaramouche, and original works and short plays.

Bracco has had a 20-year professional theater career in the U.S. and France, writing or co-writing five plays that have been professionally produced. These include ShakesPod, which was produced in Paris and ran for three seasons before coming to City Lights and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. POE-Pourri had a three-year Paris run and French tour, while Twainheart is in its second season in Paris. Bracco teaches directing, acting, and theater history at Santa Clara University.

History San Jose is City Lights' nonprofit partner for Truce. The theater will display World War I photos lent by History San Jose, and will donate a portion of ticket proceeds to the organization. In addition, the performance on Dec. 7, Pearl Harbor Day, is Veteran Appreciation Night, with a post-show party and $15 tickets for veterans (promo code "Xmas").

Cast: The Truce cast includes featured actors Drew Benjamin Jones, Max Tachis, Caitlin Papp, and Allison Meneley.

Designers: Ron Gasparinetti (Scenic), Jane Lambert (Costumes), Nick Kumamoto (Lighting), George Psarras (Arranger/Music Director/Sound Design), Pat Tyler (Properties), and Julia Sachon (Language Consultant/Translator).

Sponsors and Supporters: These include the San Jose Water Company; Applied Materials' Excellence in the Arts, a program of Silicon Valley Creates; the City of San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs; the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; the David and Lucile Packard Foundation; the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; and many other individuals, corporations, and foundations.

City Lights' 2014-15 season continues in January with Build (Northern California Premiere) by Michael Golamco. Next up: M. Butterfly by David Henry Hwang, Exit, Pursued By A Bear (South Bay Premiere) by Lauren Gunderson, and West Side Story, by Arthur Laurents, Leonard Bernstein, and Stephen Sondheim. For more information, go to cltc.org.


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