(Photos by Helen McGuire)
One hundred years after the last shot of “The Great War” was fired, Douglas Taurel—actor, Hoboken resident and creator of the acclaimed solo show The American Soldier, will perform his new play, An American Soldier’s Journey Home at the Hoboken Historical Museum on November 11th at 4 p.m.
The play is based on the life of Irving Greenwald, a soldier from 308th Infantry Regiment during World War I, who was part of the Lost Battalion and whose diary is preserved by the Library of Congress Veterans History Project and is part of the Library’s exhibition, Echoes of the Great War: American Experiences of World War I. This play will be part of Hoboken’s Museum World War I Exhibit.
The play was commissioned by the Library of Congress Veteran History Project, and performed at the Library of Congress on Veterans Day and Memorial Day of 2017.
Taurel’s one-man show weaves together archival images, music, and diary excerpts to narrate Greenwald’s entrance into the service and his experiences in France. Clad in period uniform and using a minimum of props, Taurel vividly conveys the intensity and terror of trench warfare, the jubilation of the troops following the Armistice, and Greenwald’s love for his family, particularly his wife, Leah.
When the Library of Congress saw Taurel’s critically-acclaimed show, The American Soldier, the Library asked him to create a special show just for the Veteran History Project, specifically honoring those from World War I. Taurel gladly took on the project and started adapting Greenwald’s diary and letters into a powerful, one-man presentation. The play is about 85% of diary of Private Irving Greenwald exact words, with Taurel taking 465 days of his diary entries and condensing them into a moving and thought-provoking 55 minute play.
Greenwald wrote his entries in the tiniest of handwriting, eloquently relating his experiences in training, in combat, and in the hospital after he was wounded in October 1918. The diary is the only diary that has ever been digitized, having been type-written by his granddaughter, who is the daughter of his only child, Cecile.
Taurel explained, “As I worked on the WWI project, I decided to focus only on Irving Greenwald’s diary because of all of his details of the war, and of the deep love he had for his wife. It brought me to tears at times.”
I stand with bated breath waiting for the explosion of the shell. I imagine the toll of injury and death it takes. The cost of it. The futility of it. The war will never be won on the field of battle. Why not end it all and spare men and women. – Irving Greenwald
Library of Congress created the Veterans History Project in 2000 to collect, preserve and make accessible the firsthand remembrances of America’s war veterans from World War I through the more recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war.
Taurel has been nominated for Innovative Theater Award and Amnesty International Award.
He’s appeared in numerous television shows including Mr. Robot, The Americans, Blue Bloods, Person of Interest, The Following, Damages, NYC 22, Believe, and Nurse Jackie. In the indie world he has appeared in numerous films, including The Cobbler (starring Adam Sandler and Dustin Hoffman directed by Tom McCarthy), Delivery at the HBO Latin Films Festival and the upcoming The Kindergarten Teacher (starring Maggie Gyllenhall and directed by Sara Conlangelo).
He recently finished filming his Web-TV Series Landing Home which will air digitally in 2019. Landing Home tells the story of a veteran struggling to re-adjust to his new life out of the Military.