May 102015

While “war” is far from the light and entertaining topics/events we deal with in this blog, it is the common backdrop in two upcoming presentations in Salem, each using the written word as the form of expression.

As a play—

War and the written word are intertwined to create a musical tale of love, loss and the strength of family. Letters from War, written, directed and designed by Salem native Nate Bertone will be staged at Salem Theatre’s black box theatre, May 14-23.

Letters from War tells the story of Mae, a Mississippian grandmother in advanced stages of Alzheimer’s, who must move into a nursing home when her adult daughter, Lily, can no longer care for her. Mae’s granddaughter, Madison, uncovers a mysterious box of letters while cleaning out the home. As Mae reads these letters, she recalls her lost love in fragmented, clouded memories. With the help of Lily, Madison, and a young stranger, Mae must fight the effects of age and Alzheimer’s to uncover the truth of her past before time runs out.

Bertone, a storyteller by nature, works as a professional Scenic Designer in the industry, and writes beginning in a visually oriented nature. Letters from War was written in response to the affects of Alzheimer’s Disease on his grandmother and his family, utilizing images, memories, and stories from the past and present.

For more info, including which performances will include a talkback with the playwright and actors, write to or call 978-790-8546. The black box theatre is located at 90 Lafayette Street, Salem.

As a book–

Hell Before BreakfastWar and the written word are used to highlight America’s earliest war correspondents. Historian and author Robert Patton (grandson of the legendary World War II General, George S. Patton) visits The House of the Seven Gables on May 20th to give a lecture on his new book, Hell Before Breakfast.

According to a profile by the New York State Writers Institute (State University of New York), Hell Before Breakfast: America’s First War Correspondents Making History and Headlines, from the Battlefields of the Civil War to the Far Reaches of the Ottoman Empire (the full title), is “an in-depth history of American war journalism between 1860 and 1910. Taking its title from a quote about reporters by General William Tecumseh Sherman, Hell Before Breakfast spans the globe, from the American Civil War and the Spanish-American War to conflicts in Europe and Asia, to celebrate America’s forgotten war correspondents and highlight the impact of their reportage on contemporary journalism and global politics as well as on literature and the arts.”

This is a part of the 7 Lectures at the 7 Gables series.

It begins at 6 pm. Admission is free of charge to Gables members and $15 for non-members.

To reserve seating, send an email to, or call 978-744-0991 ext. 104. The House of Seven Gables is located at 115 Derby Street, Salem.