Inside Iowa State

Inside Archives

Submit news

Send news for Inside to, or call (515) 294-7065. See publication dates, deadlines.

About Inside

Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

Feb. 15, 2008

The Civil War in Fisher Theater

by Erin Rosacker

Love and Honor

John (Don Watts), a carpenter from Des Moines, leaves his wife Margaret (Janae Hohbein) to volunteer in the Union Army. ISU Theatre's Love and Honor follows the story of John and three other young Iowa volunteers during the Civil War. Photo by Patrick Gouran.

To celebrate Iowa State's sesquicentennial, ISU Theatre will present Love and Honor over two weekends in Fisher Theater. Written by Jane Cox, professor and department chair, the play follows the lives of four Iowa men volunteering in the Union Army during the Civil War. Although the characters are not Iowa Staters, their experiences reflect the issues facing Iowans and the nation at the time ISU was founded.

Cox crafted the production after reading through diaries, letters and other published accounts from that period -- the bulk of those coming from ISU's own University Archives.

The play begins with a separate look at four men and what motivates them to volunteer. John is a carpenter and family man from Des Moines who joins the 2nd Iowa Infantry Regiment. Alex is a young farmer engaged to be married, who signs up with the 11th Infantry. James and Tom are brothers who leave their mother and farm life behind to join the 6th Infantry.

The four lives converge at the Battle of Shiloh in Tennessee, the bloodiest conflict to date. The soldiers continue to move through the south, take part in "Sherman's March to the Sea" (Atlanta to Savannah) and then head north toward Washington, D.C., and the victory parade. From battles to boredom, the characters use thoughts and words gleaned from the archives.

"Everything that happens to them, or that they write about, is based on what an actual Iowa soldier said," Cox said. "It's not a specific character, but it's historically accurate in that way."

The cast uses a combination of methods to share their stories with the audience.

"There are times that they talk directly to the audience, there are times that they're in scenes with each other, there are times that they are writing letters home and we hear sentences of the letters they get back," Cox said.

The play's scenery also will feature nuggets from the archives. Projections of period photos and paintings will be displayed on either side of the stage and background music will be from the era.

Cox hopes the audience comes away with a sense of what the generations before us endured.

"If anyone reads the experiences that men and women went through during that time period, they will have a great respect for survival in that time," she said.

Sophomore Don Watts is cast as John and graduate student Robert Baker as Alex. Sophomore Kyle Phillips and senior Phillip Schmidt are brothers James and Tom, respectively. Janae Hohbein (senior), Margaux Mireault (sophomore) and Kelly Teitsworth (junior) portray the women in their lives.

Love and Honor runs Feb. 29 to March 2, and again March 7-9. Friday and Saturday shows begin at 7:30 p.m., while Sunday matinees are at 2 p.m. Tickets, available at the Iowa State Center ticket office or through Ticketmaster, are $14 for adults, $12 for senior citizens and $7 for students.


"Everything that happens to them, or that they write about, is based on what an actual Iowa soldier said. It's not a specific character, but it's historically accurate in that way."

Jane Cox