A Live Musical Performance 

Sunday, April 14th, 2024

Spanish Benevolent Society
239 W 14th St, New York City

Adapted from the original script by Dan and Molly Watt

The Spanish Civil War Letters of George and Ruth Watt (pdf)

This poignant play is a recitation of the letters exchanged between newlyweds George and Ruth Watt during George’s time as a volunteer in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War. The dramatic readings of the letters are accompanied by singer/guitarist Albi Gorn, who reveals the cultural context of the time with folksongs from the period. Photographic images from the period, including many by Robert Capa, accompany the work.

George’s son Dan Lynn Watt discovered the letters between his parents in 1997 and with the help of his wife Molly wove the letters into this lovely play. Through these heartfelt letters, audiences are transported to a tumultuous period of history and gain insight into the experiences of those who fought in the Spanish Civil War. Ruth, who remained in New York City working hard as both office worker and anti-war activist, provides a unique perspective on the impact of war on those at home, while George’s letters reveal his passionate commitment to the cause of freedom and democracy.

George and Ruth: Songs and Letters of The Spanish Civil War is a powerful tribute to the courage and resilience of those who fought for justice and freedom during this pivotal moment in history,” says the play’s director Katie Schmidt Feder. “I have been grateful to learn more about the Spanish Civil War as well as the Lincoln Brigade which was made up of young American volunteers and activists who fought against the Nazi-supported forces of General Franco in the late 1930s. It’s a reminder of the profound sacrifices that individuals and communities make in the face of injustice and oppression. I also marvel at the powerful and progressive relationship between George and Ruth. They treat each other with such respect and honesty in these letters. The equality of their relationship and the maturity of their writing belies a newly married couple at age 22 and 23 in 1937.”

The play is enriched by the inclusion of folksongs from the period, performed by Albi Gorn who has been playing and singing for 60 years. As a singer/songwriter, he has performed in Westchester and New York City at, among other venues, the Village Gate and Gerde’s Folk City. Albi brings added insight into the music, having learned from his parents and their community the songs of the Spanish Civil war. Albi expresses that he is excited to “sing them in this moving tribute to the brave people from all over the world who went to fight Fascism.” As songwriter Tom Lehrer humorously observed about Franco and the war: “Though he may have won all the battles/we had all the best songs.”
The letters are read by actors Nick Nazario and Emrigael Alpern. Folk songs from the Spanish Civil War were selected and adapted by Tony Saletan. This version of the show was originally produced by The Capa Space Photography Center in Yorktown, NY.

Cast and Creative
George Watt . . . . . . . . Nick Nazario
Ruth Watt . . . . . . . . Emrigael Alpern
Guitar and Vocals . . . . . . Albi Gorn

Director . . . Katie Schmidt Feder
Lights and Sound . . . . Gene Panczenko



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