War and peace, written (and performed) in stone

By Roger Piantadosi/Rappahannock News | Rappahannock News

A few hundred open-air theatergoers set up their chairs and blankets Saturday afternoon at John Henry’s new and improved Stone Hill Amphitheatre, on his rolling Flint Hill farm, for a performance — a full-costume, staged reading, that is — of writer James Reston Jr.’s “Sherman the Peacemaker,” a clear-eyed if controversial take on the role played by the Union general many Southerners considered (or still consider) a war criminal, in bringing about conciliatory surrender terms aimed at a lasting peace.

By Roger Piantadosi/Rappahannock News | Rappahannock News

The play, a fundraiser for Kid Pan Alley, was well-received by the crowd and helped by a sunny, not-too-hot day, silent, silhouetted Civil War sentinels atop Henry’s recently and completely reconfigured dry-stone space, and actor John Lescault’s bravura performance amid the enthusiastic but amateur troupe that grew out of those weekly meetings-of-mind on the porch most Sunday mornings at the Laurel Mills Store (which continue still, though the store is closed and Henry now has to bring his own seats and coffee maker). And it all started with a bang — the very loud bang — of a Civil War-era cannon atop the hill overlooking the amphitheatre.

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