While looking over the Independence Public Library’s list of programs next spring for their World War I and America project, I noticed they were planning a reader’s theater presentation of the 1928 play, Journey’s End.  This play seems to be getting some attention with the World War I centennial, and justifiably so.  It’s a play that could be produced by theater companies around the state, or as a reader’s theater production by many organizations.

(Should you be unaware of what reader’s theater is, it’s what it sounds like–a dramatic presentation without the usual staging of a play, meaning no props, no scenery, just the presenters reading from the script, which still takes some talent.  It’s a little less expensive than actually producing the play.)

Journey’s End was written by the British playwright R.C. Sherriff, himself a veteran of the Great War.  The entire play is set in an officer’s dugout in France over four days in March 1918.  It is very much a character study of what is going through the officers’ minds and their attitudes as they prepare for an offensive.

Knowledgeable movie fans might know Sherriff from some of his screen plays, which include The Invisible Man (1933); Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939); The Four Feathers (1939); and That Hamilton Woman (1941).

All-in-all, for organizations looking for ideas on how to commemorate the centennial of the Great War, this may prove to be a good possibility for them.

Wikipedia has a synopsis of the play, so spoiler alert:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Journey’s_End


Blair Tarr is the Museum Curator of the Kansas State Historical Society. He oversees the three-dimensional collections of the Society, but has special interests in the Civil War, Wichita-made Valentine diners, and Leavenworth's Abernathy Furniture. In the last few years he has also done a lot of cramming on The Great War. He is a past president of the Kansas Museums Association and the Civil War Round Tables of both Kansas City and Eastern Kansas. He is currently a board member of the Heritage League of Greater Kansas City.