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 SIDES is a (roughly) two-hour musical play written, composed and arranged by Norman Ball and consisting of 20 musical numbers, two main characters (14-year-old Gabe Sander and 70-year-old Henry Fleming, alias 'The Old Soldier'), several supporting characters and seven historical 'enactors' who perform songs and offer actual quotes.  The staging is minimal with the majority of the play occurring on the Old Soldier’s farmhouse porch as he recounts his war experiences to Gabe, assisted in the telling by a variety of apparitions from the past.  The play attempts to imagine Henry Fleming, the young protagonist of The Red Badge of Courage, as a veteran and old man. Due in large part to its unflinching and graphic portrayal of war, the novel (now in the public domain) caused a sensation when it was first published in 1895 and remains one of the most popular novels (by sales) in the United States (source: Melissa Kelly, about.com).

Inquiries: Norman Ball

norm@normanball.com

 SIDES offers a wonderful intersection of multiple disciplines, leveraging one of America’s most enduring novels in a manner that combines literature, history, drama, music and current events.  SIDES is an educational vehicle in an entertainment package –or is it an entertainment vehicle in an educational package…maybe it’s both! In the right directorial hands, SIDES could play to either crowd. Ideally, SIDES could walk both paths simultaneously.  SIDES is an appealing scholastic vehicle that ‘puts history to song’ while showcasing America’s rich variety of musical genres: gospel, country, folk, rock, rock opera, show-tune, blues, and Americana, all to maximum effect.  An informative new podcast interview with playwright Norman Ball conducted by Dr. James Beeghley appears here (pt 1) and here (pt 2).

Inquiries: Norman Ball

norm@normanball.com

 Stephen Crane (November 1, 1871 – June 5, 1900), the author of The Red Badge of Courage, “was an American novelist, short story writer, poet and journalist. Prolific throughout his short life, he wrote notable works in the Realist tradition as well as early examples of American Naturalism and Impressionism. He is recognized by modern critics as one of the most innovative writers of his generation.” –from Wikipedia
 Civil War veterans who read TRBOC refused to believe Crane was not a fellow combatant. In fact, he began writing the book at age 21 and was not even born until after the war!

 Note to young people: ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!

Inquiries: Norman Ball

norm@normanball.com

NOVEL SYNOPSIS: Henry Fleming is a fresh, young Civil War (Union) recruit from New York. After suffering an initial failure of nerve, he redeems himself in a subsequent skirmish against the enemy. Though he continues to be haunted by his early encounter, Henry comes away with a sense he has ultimately triumphed over 'the red sickness' of war. He concludes that the extreme conditions of war have allowed him to achieve manhood.


“Crane asks a recognition from his reader that the virtues Henry achieves only in battle are of utmost importance in everyday life."
--from Imaging the Civil War: Authenticity in Painting, Photography, and The Red Badge of Courage, by Eric Gislason

One of the central themes of the novel is that life itself is a 'wound' to which we must all devise responses—and marshal the necessary facets of character—in order to transcend and prevail. At the same time, life is meaningless without such rites of passage and trials & tribulations. There are no badges without courage.

While most critics agree TRBOC is not, first and foremost, an antiwar novel (but rather uses war as a metaphor for life), SIDES elects a stance clearly critical of the internalized and avoidable forms of war and conflict.

Inquiries: Norman Ball

norm@normanball.com

 PLAY SYNOPSIS: Using Crane's novel as a launch-point, SIDES imagines an older brother for Henry, Confederate soldier Michael (moved to Virginia as a very young man) and a Southern wife for Michael, Becca. Additionally, Henry has a wife, Agnes.  The Fleming brothers’ mother in the play, Mamma Fleming, dreads the prospect of both boys potentially faced-off against one another. She implores Henry not to join up.  Near the conclusion of the war, a host of tragedies befall the Fleming clan in rapid succession. Becca succumbs to dysentery, Michael is shot by a Union sniper, Henry loses a leg and Mamma Fleming dies of heartbreak over the death of her beloved Michael. The play consists largely of Gabe Sander and his mother learning Henry's tragic tale as he recounts it to them as an old man.

 The play stands on its own without requiring a prior reading of the novel. However it is
hoped viewers of the play are inspired enough to seek out the novel. It would be well-worth their time!

Inquiries: Norman Ball

norm@normanball.com

 The SIDES graphic-montage (grayscale version to the left) was created by
the playwright. The central image derives from an early study of Eastman Johnson’s painting ‘The Wounded Drummer Boy’ (1871).

 Variants of this painting exist based on “an incident that reportedly occurred
during the Battle of Antietam (1863) in which an injured drummer boy asked a comrade to carry him so that he could continue drumming his unit forward. The emblematic image of a heroic youth literally rising above the chaos of the battlefield resonated deeply with Northern audiences both during and after the war...[and] helped to commemorate the hope and sacrifice of the Union effort...and powerfully evoke the experience of battle — the steady drum beat, the smoke-filled air, and the drama of life and death.” (quote from Brooklyn Museum)

Inquiries: Norman Ball

norm@normanball.com

 For the playwright, this iconic painting captures the ideal of one generation lifting another above the fray, to a better place i.e. on the shoulders of giants. The hopeful optimism of America is traditionally premised upon our children having brighter futures than ourselves and unclouded vistas. Frankly, can the same be said today?  Almost certainly, another inspiration for the painting was Charlie Coulson, a 14-year-old amputee who died at Gettysburg. Too young to be a soldier, he trailed along as a drummer boy. A fervent and devout Christian, he refused chloroform during his amputations, asking that it be spared instead for the soldiers. He died in a field hospital soon after agonizing operations to remove a leg and arm.  The sad irony is that, like history’s Charlie Coulson, each successive generation seems wed to the ‘glories of war’ with undiminished fervor. This begs the question: Will the Old Soldier prevail upon Gabe to ‘break the generational tragedy of war’?

Inquiries: Norman Ball

norm@normanball.com

“This country has become so polarized that it’s almost astonishing…Not only with the red and blue states…[but also] the most polarized situation in Washington that we have ever seen--even maybe in the time of Abraham Lincoln and the initiation of the War Between the States.”
–President Jimmy Carter (September 20, 2010)

 Today’s red-blue divide bears ominous similarities to the bluegray divide of yore.

 Former President Jimmy Carter offered an astounding observation recently (in box, left). Congressional Black Caucus Leader Emanuel Cleaver II has made similar cautionary comments in recent months.
 The powers of division in America are on the verge of eclipsing the powers of unity and compromise.  Acrimony is a childish indulgence. Conciliation is a grown-up response to a multifaceted, multicultural world.  During the current sesquicentennial remembrance of the Civil War, we should reflect on the dangers of history repeating itself.

“...in our deeply politically tribal country and rabidly partisan Congress, we sometimes anticipate the worst about those who are of a different political affiliation...Civility and cautious judgment of others are the insignia of statesmanship." --Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, (MO) (March 23, 2012)

Inquiries: Norman Ball

norm@normanball.com

 Historic figures Abraham Lincoln, General Robert E. Lee, Harriet Tubman, Nat Turner, Frederick Douglass, John Brown and John Wilkes Booth make appearances in actual quote and in song.  Composite/Generic figures The Confederate and Union soldiers and their wives help convey the common man's loves, fears and concerns. Additionally, the soldiers offer actual quotes from TRBOC. They also serve, at times, as the young Fleming brothers and their wives.

 Personal characters The main narrative arc involves the interaction between Henry Fleming (the Old Soldier) and 14-year-old Gabe Sander, along with their family members, both living and dead.

Inquiries: Norman Ball

norm@normanball.com

 Checkers the Harlequin is a character (or should we say she’s a real character) who interjects riddles, rhymes, tall tales and anecdotes along the way.

 Checkers is the hip and worldly sage used to dispense audience asides, contemporary social commentary, levity and ‘unscripted’ mischief.
 Checkers also sings a musical number, General Obsession, which lampoons the Civil War’s generals in a style reminisce nt of a Noel Coward song.  There was nothing foolish about the Shakespearian fool, really a precursor to the TV commercial interruption where the audience gets a breather from heavy historical content for the occasional witticism or badda-bing.

Inquiries: Norman Ball

norm@normanball.com

“The process by which Henry sheds his illusions leads him to assert by novel's conclusion that the antagonistic cooperation necessary to democratic society must be embraced.” --from Imaging the Civil War: Authenticity in Painting, Photography, and The Red Badge of Courage , by Eric Gislason

 SIDES is a meditation on sides--internal, personal and political-that strives to avoid the taking of sides. Huge inspiration is owed, with the greatest reverence and respect, to Crane’s enduring masterpiece.  With similar reverence, SIDES incorporates loose adaptations of four public-domain hymns: Steal Away to Jesus*, Run On, Doxology and It Is Well with My Soul**.  ‘Getting along’ is a necessity, not a luxury. In an odd way, we are advantaged by the example of the Civil War, but only if we learn from its tragic example. We can ill-afford to ignore its message. We can ill-afford to ignore one another.  Creative conflict in a democracy is vital. We cannot stew in the corner while our TV-pundit-of-choice reinforces everything we want to hear. We must vigorously engage one another.

* Wallace Willis, circa 1862 ** Horatio Spafford, 1871

Inquiries: Norman Ball

norm@normanball.com

 A TV pilot is currently underway at FCAC directed by Leo Gerard of Last Tango Productions, LLC.  The objective is to create compelling video and audio material from key moments in the play in order to secure financing for a large-scale TV or movie screenplay effort.  Other outreach efforts are underway to obtain the support and interest of industry ‘rain-makers’ and production companies.  A financial needs-analysis is currently being developed for further SIDES-based initiatives. Seed capital and/or early investors are actively solicited.

Inquiries: Norman Ball

norm@normanball.com

 Much is made of the prohibitive costs involved in mounting a Broadway play —and for very good reason (as the next chart clearly shows).  SIDES is not necessarily a ‘Broadway product’. The Civil War (or as is preferred in the South, ‘The War Between the States’) still commands great heartland interest and fascination. This is especially true in the South. In fact cities like Richmond and Atlanta may be among the most welcoming venues for SIDES.  Community theatres and High School/College drama departments are also ideal venues due to the content-rich subject matter of SIDES.

 From an educational and historical standpoint, too many musicals are about ‘a whole lot of nothing at all.’ Whereas SIDES is right in the middle of our nation’s most pressing issues, both past and present.
 America is also in the middle of Civil War sesquicentennial commemorations and will be through at least 2015. The time is right.

Inquiries: Norman Ball

norm@normanball.com

Representative Costs to Mount a Musical Play (courtesy of makemusicals.com)
 $25,000 – 75,000 – full scale production at a small community theater  $150,000 – 250,000 — full scale production at a professional non-equity theater  $1,000,000 — The production and operating costs/production at most regional theaters

 $1.5-4 million — The cost to do a major pre-Broadway tryout at a regional theater. Includes the planned Broadway cast and with the intention that the bulk of the sets and costumes will transfer. (Source: TheaterMania)
 $5-$20 million — The cost to open a musical on Broadway (Spiderman’s $65 million is yet another order of magnitude). (Source: NY Times)

Inquiries: Norman Ball

norm@normanball.com

 Friend or foe? Savior or enemy? Which of these SIDES are you on? How we address these questions TODAY will determine the future course of our nation. Know thy sides -- know thyself.  Abraham Lincoln – Great Emancipator or northern industrialist stooge?

 Nat Turner and John Brown - terrorists or freedom fighters?
 John Wilkes Booth - cold-blooded murderer or martyred nationalist?  Harriet Tubman - wanted fugitive or new world Moses?  Frederick Douglass - freeman-in-mind or slave-in-body?  General Robert E. Lee - Union deserter or loyal Virginia son?  SIDES offers no easy answers. Rather it urges all of us to think.

Inquiries: Norman Ball

norm@normanball.com

 The play is set in January 1916, on the eve of WWI, just after the sinking of the RMS Lusitania, and fifty years after the conclusion of the Civil War.
Rationale: This allows Henry Fleming, TRBOC's protagonist, to counsel the young Gabe with the hindsight of a battle-hardened elder. Like Henry before him, Gabe is 'fired up' and wants to teach Kaiser Wilhelm a lesson or two.  Leaving home as a young man to construct railroads in the south, Henry's older brother Michael settles in Virginia and takes a wife, Becca. Thus he signs on with the Confederate Army when the war breaks out. Rationale: Literalizing the 'brother against brother' conflict of the Civil War allows SIDES to explore both the historical and personal costs of this bloodsoaked chapter in American history.

Inquiries: Norman Ball

norm@normanball.com

 Unlike the novel's Henry Fleming, 'this Henry' loses a leg at the conclusion of the war. Rationale: The injury serves to symbolize and accentuate the disfiguring effects of war.  The play is set on Henry Fleming's farmhouse in rural southern Maryland which he purchases and settles in after the war.

Rationale: Maryland was selected because of its 'ambivalence' as a border state. Indeed there were strong factions --both for and against succession-in the state. Consistent with its message, SIDES attempts to take no 'sides' seeking 'border status' itself. Consistent with the novel, Henry is originally a New Yorker, as is his ‘invented’ brother Michael.

Inquiries: Norman Ball

norm@normanball.com

 SIDES employs a 'ghost' or 'magic' field adjacent to Henry's farmhouse.
Rationale: This field furnishes a 'stage within a stage' which broadens and deepens the story, allowing characters and apparitions to propel the narrative forward by way of backlit quotes and illustrative musical numbers.  Although Fleming is a Union soldier in TRBOC, Union and Confederate soldiers are employed interchangeably to offer Henry Fleming's observations during the play. Rationale: Crane was essentially an agnostic on the Civil War. His concern for historical accuracy was not paramount. In an effort to better universalize the novel and strike a non-sectarian stance, SIDES employs both sides to mouth the words of the young Henry.

Inquiries: Norman Ball

norm@normanball.com

SIDES Preliminary Music Guide Tracks The Youtube links below are CLICKABLE works-in-progress. Some are rough cuts and will be updated as new versions are recorded. Additional voices will be added as acquired. For the moment, the playwright’s voice appears as a guide on all tracks. 1. We Are Whole (3:13) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-Omwcd8NrU The Wounded Drummer Boy (1:24) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAizA86LMtk Nat Turner's Dream (4:36) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXc_HUbqTCw Underground Railroad (3:04) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_feeFL8CL0

2.

3.

4.

(All songs are the property of Norman Ball. Listen please, but do not distribute.)

Inquiries: Norman Ball

norm@normanball.com

SIDES Preliminary Music Guide Tracks (cont.)
5. What Need Must Pass (4:46) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqdGalIY0oM Freedom’s Just a Banner with a Place to Hide (2:40) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5Gd1mNzx_E Two Roads, One Life (4:20) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCQ_WrysTTc Who Is on My Side? (3:17) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WsA2HoekDZc General Obsession (1:58) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uGqxPkxUOps

6.

7.

8.

9.

(All songs are the property of Norman Ball. Listen please, but do not distribute.)

Inquiries: Norman Ball

norm@normanball.com

SIDES Preliminary Music Guide Tracks (cont.) 10. Our Sweet Time Will Come (to be completed)

11. Becca’s Song (3:31) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NlpggViHp-0
12. A Soldier's Destiny (7:50) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2k89EZ3TGw 13. My American Cousin (3:26) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDNwbyRuTvY

14. In Memoriam – Doxology (5:58) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xveH14L1V2Q
15. Fresh Beginnings (3:24) (to be completed/karaoke here only) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4hGXZx8nmYQ
(All songs are the property of Norman Ball. Listen please, but do not distribute.) Inquiries: Norman Ball norm@normanball.com

SIDES Preliminary Music Guide Tracks (cont.) 16. A Mother's Tears (4:05) (very poor recording quality) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fI07PtmmiH8 17. Michael’s Song (4:02) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_iuxQNpnM0

18. Blue and Gray Matters (3:02) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3FsbhT3sQME
19. Perfect Union (3:11) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZ3B9Yytg-Y 20. We are Whole (reprise) (4:28) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5S44CU2KuWo (All songs are the property of Norman Ball. Listen please, but do not distribute.)

Inquiries: Norman Ball

norm@normanball.com

Our new Civil War Compendium is available from Sf Communications of Georgia here at Amazon, Kindle and in a variety of eBook platforms at Smashwords. This 405-page book includes the play SIDES, Richard Stafford’s true-tolife Civil War play ‘Yours’, the Red Badge of Courage novel and a number of essays and observations from leading historians. All in all, a fascinating collection that any Civil War enthusiast will want to have. Make sure to click the cover above to get a glimpse inside the book.

Inquiries: Norman Ball

norm@normanball.com

 Playwright Norman Ball has spent nearly his entire life in the great state of Virginia. Scottish-born, he arrived with his family in Northern Virginia as a fouryear-old.  A graduate of Washington & Lee University and The George Washington University (MBA), his poetry and essays have appeared in numerous magazines and journals, among them, Liberty, Prairie Home Companion, LIGHT Quarterly, Berkeley Poetry Review, Epicenter, Main Street Rag, The New Renaissance, The London Times, The Scotsman, NASDAQ and others.  A two-time nominee for the prestigious Pushcart Prize and a regular on eScene’s Best of the Literary Journals, his collection of essays How Can We Make Your Power More Comfortable? (Del Sol Press) appeared in late 2010. The Frantic Force (Petroglyph Books), another essay collection, appeared in 2011. A poetry collection A Signature Advance from Hoof and Paw will appear in 2012.

Inquiries: Norman Ball

norm@normanball.com

 One of six long-form essays from Norman Ball's upcoming book Between River and Rock: How I Resolved Television in Six Easy Payments ('Camelot Sells a Lot') appears at the Museum of American Poetics (MAP) curated by former Allen Ginsberg protégé Jim Cohn. MAP is an assemblage of the leading voices of the Postbeat movement; those who, in Cohn’s words, “illuminate poetic calling as it is now”. Naropa University graduate and former Ginsberg research assistant Kirpal Gordon calls the book simply, "the most uncanny channeling of Allen Ginsberg's poetry I’ve ever read."

 LIGHT Quarterly, the English-speaking world's preeminent journal of light verse,
recently stated its mandate as seeking to, “resurrect the literary milieu (if not the time) of Ogden Nash, Dorothy Parker, James Thurber, E. B. White, Morris Bishop, David McCord, Peter De Vries, [and to] foster new talent in light verse like Norman Ball, Charles Ghigna, John Whitworth and Alicia Stallings.”

Inquiries: Norman Ball

norm@normanball.com

 In her recent article, ‘Broadway’s Spider-Man: A Tangled Web of Lessons in Project Management’, author and project management consultant Pam Stanton uncovers myriad management failures all across the mammoth $65M undertaking.  Stanton uses the Project Management Institute’s (PMI) widely-accepted PMBOK methodology to isolate and diagnose classic, ‘textbook’ errors in Project Planning, Initiation, Execution and Monitoring & Controlling.

In addition to his creative background, playwright Norman Ball has over 30 years of experience managing large-scale project efforts. He is a Certified Project Management Professional (PMP).

 The playwright has delivered every aspect of this turnkey project to its present form single-handedly and for (it should be added) a tiny fraction of Spiderman’s massive outlay.
 The ‘iron triangle’ of Schedule, Scope and Cost are critical to the success of any large -scale endeavor. Management is important. After all folks, it’s show business!

Inquiries: Norman Ball

norm@normanball.com

Be sure to check out Norman Ball’s other books and music widely available on the Internet:

Norman Ball's ambitious poetry turns on wordplay--for wit, for sonic joy, and for serious surprises. Both his formal and free verse thrive in the territory of e.e. cummings, where he takes on challenges too daunting for most contemporary poets.” --A. M. Juster, Poet, “The Satires of Horace” “A prolific songwriter, literary essayist, political commentator and playwright, here comes Ball the poet refracting, at his best, Auden's 'ironic points of light’…as for that patented Ball humor does it traverse genres? I’m pleased to report it more than survives the stanza.” --Douglas Milton, Editor, Anthony Burgess International Journal “Often very funny, always incisive with insights that deflate the hot air of contemporary society and its inept leaders, Ball both entertains and alarms as he penetrates the follies of our time. His own skillful use of language exposes the semantic fabrications that prop up so many of our political and economic policies.” —Walter Cummins, Editor Emeritus, The Literary Review “Ball…mobilizes enormous and uncountable numbers of ideas about virtually every aspect of our culture. When you read him, you aren't revisiting notions you already had; you're facing real challenges, sentence by unpredictable sentence. If you want to be enlivened, rather than lulled to sleep, you should read Norman Ball.--Stephen Cox, Editor, Liberty magazine

Inquiries: Norman Ball

norm@normanball.com