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Spy! Tales from the Civil War at WTA’s Gateway

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Lynn Ruehlmann 3In keeping with the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, WTA’s Gateway has engaged award-winning storyteller, Lynn Ruehlmann to perform her tale of Civil War spies.  The performance will be at 7 pm at WTA’s Gateway, 329 West Main Street on Thursday, April 18.   The program will feature the stories of Elizabeth Van Lew and Rose O’Neal Greenhow who used their wiles and skills to secure information for opposite sides in the war.  Each story is a fascinating look at the role of women in the conflict that split the nation.

Elizabeth Van Lew was the daughter of a prominent Richmond family.  Educated at Quaker school in Philadelphia, her family abolitionist sentiments were re-enforced.  At the beginning of the war, Van Lew used her family’s position to secure access to Confederate prison in Richmond.  There she aided prisoners in escape attempts and gathered military information which she passed to the Union Army.  She also operated a spy ring that included clerks in the Confederacy’s War and Navy Departments.  Van Lew was credited with providing invaluable intelligence to the Army of the Potomac during 1864-65 campaigns.

On the opposite side of the conflict was Washington socialite Rose O’Neal Greenhow who used her social network within the political and military circles to pass important military information to the Confederates at the beginning of the conflict.  Her spying was uncovered and she was imprisoned.  She was later released and deported to Richmond where she was hailed as a heroine by Southerns.   The Confederate government later sent Greenhow on diplomatic missions to Europe.

Spy! is a creation of  Lynn Ruehlmann who was bitten by the storytelling bug after having spent years in the theater. Since 1990, she has made storytelling her professional focus. She performs for schools and adult organizations, everywhere from Virginia to Michigan to Alaska to Georgia to Connecticut. For many years, she worked with Young Audiences of Virginia, who named her Artist of the Year. The Virginia Commission for the Arts has awarded grants for her touring programs every year since 2002.  Her recording, “Spy! The Story of Civil War Spy Elizabeth Van Lew,” won a “Storytelling World” and a Parents’ Choice Award. Her CD, “It Happened in the White House: True Tales of the Eight Virginia Presidents and Their Wives” was winner of the Storytelling World award, and NAPPA Honors.

The performances by Lynn Ruehlmann are support in part by the Virginia Commission for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge.

Tickets for the performance at WTA’s Gateway at 7 pm are $5 for children and $7 for adults.  They may be purchased by calling 943-943-9999 or at the Gateway Box office on the night of performance.

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