Welcome Home from the war, boys.

Thomas Wolfe says You Can’t Go Home Again, and yet here we are, thrilled to be back re-tracing our steps, reliving the memories of our exhilarating journey in the making of Chamberlain, A Civil War Romance. Brunswick was our creative home base for the writing of this musical. The Brunswick community supported us and informed us, and even housed and fed us on occasion. What a moving experience for us to have the support and enthusiasm of this remarkable community. We treasure the memories and realize this kind of community support and collaboration is unique in the life of writers.

The responsibility of bringing Chamberlain to life in our musical weighed heavily on both of us, and the more we researched and learned of this amazing man the weightier the responsibility grew. It was Chamberlain’s own words that helped us get past the fear of “getting it right.” We wrote the last scene of our musical first, and although the show has gone through many revisions and changes—including some for this production—that last scene has never changed. In a wonderful poem by T.S. Eliot called “Little Gidding,” there is this profound observation: “…to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.” And so it was. The end was our beginning. Chamberlain’s own words were the key to all that was to come.

And reverent men and women from afar, and generations that know us not and that we know not of, heart-drawn to see where and by whom great things were suffered and done for them, shall come to this deathless field, to ponder and dream; and lo! The shadow of a mighty presence shall wrap them in its bosom, and the power of the vision pass into their souls.

We are those reverent men and women from afar. We ponder and we dream and we write this story to share and honor all that was suffered and done for us.

But there is a truth in Thomas Wolf’s title, You Can’t Go Home Again. All things must change and grow. We come to Brunswick 18 years older and wiser, with a 16-year-old son in tow. The collaboration with Maine State Music Theatre’s new artistic director, Curt Dale Clark and our musical’s new director, Marc Robin, has brought about exciting revisions.

It has not gone unnoticed by us that our journey back to Brunswick and our revisiting of this most treasured time in our careers echoes the very construction of our “memory” musical. Ghosts rise up all around us and the visions pass into our souls. We will use T.S. Eliot in summation. Although Eliot was a poet of a future generation, we will make the bold assumption that Lawrence and Fannie would have admired his poetry immensely.

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, remembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the appletree…
Sarah Knapp
June 5, 2014