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    San Juan Island

    National Historical Park Washington

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Life and Times of General George Pickett

Mike Vouri as General George Pickett
Mike Vouri performs the "Life and Times of General George Pickett" in the Wheeler Theater at Fort Worden State Park in Port Townsend.
Frank Vouri
 

"The Life and Times of General George Pickett" returns to the stage in 2014 as the park continues its commemoration of the Civil War Sesquicentennial.

Mike Vouri (in the title role) and folksinger Michael Cohen have presented the play throughout the Pacific Northwest, plus a trip to Virginia, for more than 17 years.

The play covers Pickett's life from his boyhood in Richmond, Virginia, to his untimely death in the 1870s. Along the way, Vouri, as Pickett, offers a brisk interpretation of the 19th Century United States and its territories through Pickett's life, which touched almost all of the major themes; while Mr. Cohen plays the banjo and sings period songs.

The play culminates in the disastrous "Pickett's Charge" that brought ruin to the Confederate Army at the Battle of Gettysburg, which will be commemorated 150 years to the day on Friday, July 11, and again on Thursday, August 21, at the San Juan Community Theatre. Performances are scheduled 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15, $8 for students and $5 student rush. Call the theatre at 378-3210 for information.

A performance also is scheduled in September on Lopez Island, date and time to be announced.

 
Michael Cohen performs

Michael Cohen performs the "Rebel Song" during a performance on San Juan Island.

Brian Smale

Retired Hollywood director Andrew V. McLaglen ("The Blue & The Gray," "The Undefeated," and Shenandoah") has said of the show: "George Pickett was reincarnated in front of our eyes. Mike Vouri as General Pickett relived this man's life with a magnificent performance climaxing with the fateful order to charge Cemetery Hill at Gettysburg, which will always be remembered as Pickett's Charge."

Sunset Magazine's Peter Fish wrotes: "Tellingly, in his... performance, Vouri portrays Pickett in two acts. In the Pig War, he is cocky and comic. In the second act, after Appomattox, he is a living ghost haunted by the carnage he has witnessed."

The Journal of the San Juan Islands: "The trail (Vouri) blazes through 19th century America is enjoyable and believable, and it is an easy one for the audience to follow...it at Gettysburg that Vouri excels. His acting is in top form as he describes the definitive moment in Pickett's life." -- 1998 "Vouri brings a flawed man to life...But it is during the second act that Vouri demonstrates his acting, writing and storytelling brilliance. The famous charge into the Union lines at Gettysburg has never been so vividly portrayed. 'An Evening with George Pickett' is an event no islander should miss." -- 2000

Each of the players wears uniforms, U.S. Army and Confederate, and Vouri demonstrates replica weapons and equipment throughout the performance.

The play has been presented to enthusiastic audiences throughout Washington State and British Columbia, the former under the auspices of the Washington State Humanities Commission's Inquiring Mind series. They have also taken the play to Norfolk, VA for a command performance for the Pickett Society.

 
Mike Vouri as George Pickett

Mike Vouri performs "Life and Times of General George Pickett" on San Juan Island in 2004.

Brian Smale

Vouri is the chief of interpretation and historian for San Juan Island National Historical Park, which on 2,098 acres of woodlands, beaches, and prairies commemorates the peaceful resolution of the water boundary dispute (or "Pig War") between the United States and Great Britain. He is the author of The Pig War: Standoff at Griffin Bay (1999 and 2013); Outpost of Empire: The Royal Marines and Joint Occupation of San Juan Island (2004); The Pig War (Arcadia Press, 2008), Friday Harbor (2009) and San Juan Island (2010). He has appeared in numerous theatrical productions on San Juan Island including The Laramie Project, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, A Christmas Carol, Lost in Yonkers and Private Lives.

Mike Cohen has been cited by the Smithsonian Institution as one of the catalysts for the 1950's folk revival in New York City where he recorded and played professionally with the Shanty Boys Folk Trio and Oscar Brand. He performs solo for the National Park Service on San Juan Island and with the folk group Sugar On The Floor that he formed to support local service organization functions. His musical family includes his brother, John Cohen of the New Lost City Ramblers. Mike also is an ecophyschology professor, author and researcher.

For booking information contact the park via e-mail or call (360) 378-2240, ext. 2227.

 

2014 Performance Schedule

July 11, August 21
San Juan Community Theatre

September
Lopez Island. Date and time to be announced.

Did You Know?

Did You Know?

First Lieutenant James W. Forsyth was Capt. George E. Pickett's second in command on San Juan Island. Forsyth would become a brigadier general in the Civil War and go on to command the 7th Cavalry at the Battle of Wounded Knee Creek in 1890.