About The Eleventh Hour and the Term "Armistice"
Years of entrenched fighting. Dangerous new high-tech weapons. Debilitating combat trauma. An inconclusive ending and partisan politics in its wake. World War I not only set the stage for wars of the 21st century, in many ways it defines the modern world as we know it.
The war began in 1914 and lasted four years. The U.S., however, wouldn't enter the war until 1917, providing weary Allied forces with two million bodies -- and little in the way of combat experience. But the bodies were enough. Just seven months later, the long, indecisive war came to an end. President Wilson, a Democrat, had insisted on "peace without victory." According to the terms of the armistice (from the Latin words for 'stopping of arms'), fighting would simply end: no victors, no losers -- only a long-awaited peace after a loss of more than 9 million lives around the world.
And then, in the United States, the controversy began. Shortly after the armistice, a Republican-led Congress began to investigate expenditures related to the war. Their goal? To embarrass President Wilson, a Democrat, and regain the White House in 1920. The Eleventh Hour is based on the combative, highly partisan hearings that resulted. Nearly all of the testimony found in the play is taken directly from records of the 66th Congress. Though statements have been conflated, the names of the soldiers who testify all come from transcripts of the hearings.
The script combines fictional characters with many real figures of the period. It would be difficult to invent Alvan Fuller, a Boston congressman and canny car salesman. (He later earned some renown as the governor who refused to pardon Sacco and Venzetti.) And Lady Clementine, a strident Scotswoman, did offer her estate as a convalescent home for British officers. Medical doctors, puzzled by an outbreak of 'cowardice,' sent soldiers there to recover. The strange new ailment, soon to be named 'shell shock,' is better known today as a form of combat trauma.
Staged Reading, Luna Stage (New Jersey): Directed by Gus Kaikkonen.
Residency, Djerassi Resident Artist's Program
Developed first draft of "The Eleventh Hour" during one-month residency in Woodside, California.