World Premiere of ‘A Year in the Trenches’ Commemorates 100th Anniversary of U.S. Entering WWI

“If someone in 1916 told me that in 1917 I’d be in the army, I would have thought him insane,” said Charles Edward Dilkes.

Meet Dilkes, poet Joyce Kilmer, pilot Kenneth Russell Unger, nurse Amabel Scharff Roberts, “Hello Girl” Grace Banker and others who went to Europe when the U.S. entered World War I 100 years ago. “A Year in the Trenches” is based on Dilkes’ book “Remembering World War I: An Engineer’s Diary of the War” and other historical sources. Dilkes was born in Philadelphia, but spent the rest of his life in New Jersey after the war. Others from New Jersey are in the play, including two from Cape May. Live music from the period is performed throughout.

The script for this world premiere, written by James Rana and developed with Gayle Stahlhuth, was commissioned by the New Jersey Historical Commission and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Staged readings of a one-hour version have been performed throughout the state, and highlights from the readings and interviews with the creators are part of an upcoming segment of “State of the Arts” on NJTV.

The cast includes Jennie Bissell, Osborn Focht, Ryan Genauldi, Matt Baxter Luceno, Mike Newman and Tara Reuter. Stahlhuth is directing, and this marks her 100th show she’s produced since becoming ELTC’s artistic director in 1999.

The show runs from Sept. 20 through Oct. 14, which includes a 2 p.m. matinee on Wednesday, Oct. 11. Location is the First Presbyterian Church, 500 Hughes St., Cape May. For information and reservations, call (609) 884-5898 or visit