Last week Brewster High School, along with the Southeast Museum, was recognized for Exemplary Public History in Schools during a ceremony celebrating the 207th birthday of Putnam County. The honor came thanks to Brewster High School’s production of “The Letters: Voices from the Great War.”
“Awards on this day are given in recognition of exemplary work and dedication to recording and preserving the history of Putnam County,” said Michael Bartolotti, County Clerk and Records Management Officer responsible for the County Archives, in a letter to the district. “Your collective dedication and creation of an important, engaging public performance about Putnam County in World War I has resulted in this nomination.”
The production was a labor of love between Brewster High School’s Performing Arts teacher Andrea Perdicho and Jen Cassidy, a playwright and trustee of the Southeast Museum.
“It was a huge honor to be involved in it and to work with Jen Cassidy,” said Perdicho. “She’s so brilliant. She loves this community and knows so much about the history.”
Not your typical high school drama, “The Letters” focused on real stories of local soldiers and their families.
“I think the most interesting or gratifying thing was talking to the families of the people that we featured in the play,” said Perdicho. “It was difficult to choose who to feature. Jen came to me with four three-ring binders full of letters. It was a massive amount of information. Just to focus on who we were going to choose was a huge undertaking.”
Once the play was written, the work didn’t stop.
“My theater class got involved heavily in the costumes,” Perdicho said. “There are no plays or musicals set in WWI. Finding costumes and figuring out what each person would wear was difficult.”
“My theater class did a great deal of research,” she continued. “We worked on that for months just knowing that people who knew better would be watching it.”
During the performance on November 10, performers paid tribute to local veterans in honor of Veterans Day and the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice, marking the end of World War I. Many veterans attended the performance.
“It was a great feeling,” Perdicho said. “We do veterans concerts, but this was different. I think it’s just that it took a really long time to get up and going. We went through so many drafts and it involved so many people. It was really a group effort.”
Perdicho and cast members RJ Frankenberry, Izzy Izaguirre, Jimmy Hartigan, Aaron Lurin, Charlie Fitzpatrick, and Andrew DiFabbio attended the ceremony, leading the Pledge of Allegiance and performing the National Anthem in honor of Flag Day.