In “All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914,” the acclaimed Theater Latté Da will masterfully retell a moment of unity and reconciliation: the Christmas truce when Allied and German soldiers celebrated together, sharing food and drink, playing soccer, singing carols and burying each other’s dead. This extraordinary night of camaraderie, music and peace is sure to be a highlight of the holiday season. Tickets for the Dec. 19 performance are still available through the UCCS Presents Box Office.
Along with music including patriotic tunes, trench songs and Christmas carols, this poignant performance incorporates soldiers’ firsthand accounts of the surreal, beautiful respite from the chaos of war. Read a selection of their recollections below (compiled by Thomas Vinciguerra for the New York Times in 2005):
Pvt. Albert Moren of the Second Queens Regiment recalled the scene on Christmas Eve near the French village of La Chapelle d’Armentières:
It was a beautiful moonlit night, frost on the ground, white almost everywhere; and about 7 or 8 in the evening there was a lot of commotion in the German trenches and there were these lights—I don’t know what they were. And then they sang “Silent Night”—“Stille Nacht.” I shall never forget it, it was one of the highlights of my life. I thought, what a beautiful tune.
Rifleman Graham Williams of the Fifth London Rifle Brigade recalled how the mood spread:
Then suddenly lights began to appear along the German parapet, which were evidently make-shift Christmas trees, adorned with lighted candles, which burnt steadily in the still, frosty air! … First the Germans would sing one of their carols and then we would sing one of ours, until when we started up “o Come, All ye Faithful” the Germans immediately joined in singing the same hymn to the Latin words Adeste Fideles. And I thought, well, this is really a most extraordinary thing—two nations both singing the same carol in the middle of a war.
The enemies quickly became friends, as Cpl. John Ferguson of the Second Seaforth Highlanders recalled:
We shook hands, wished each other a Merry Xmas, and were soon conversing as if we had known each other for years. We were in front of their wire entanglements and surrounded by Germans—Fritz and I in the center talking, and Fritz occasionally translating to his friends what I was saying. We stood inside the circle like street corner orators… What a sight—little groups of Germans and British extending almost the length of our front! out of the darkness we could hear laughter and see lighted matches, a German lighting a Scotchman’s cigarette and vice versa, exchanging cigarettes and souvenirs.
Founded in 1998 by Peter Rothstein and Denise Prosek, Theater Latté Da is in its 20th year of combining music and story to illuminate the depth and breadth of the human experience. The company is becoming a national leader in the art of musical theater, having produced 66 mainstage productions—including 10 world premieres, 10 area premieres and dozens of productions celebrated for their bold re-imagination.