Robert Ruffin Productions Presented The World Premiere Play “Kiss My Little Girls – 1861”
In Commemoration Of The Civil War Susquicentennial
To Sold Out Crowds
In October of 2011, Robert Ruffin productions presented “Kiss My Little Girls – 1861” by Robert Ruffin with Jeff Toalson as part of the Civil War Sesquicentennial Commemoration at Arts on Main in Gloucester. The play sold to overcapacity houses and received 6 standing ovations out of 8 performances.
The play was based on Jeff Toalson’s book “Send Me a Pair of Old Boots and Kiss My Little Girls” which documents the real- life letters written between husband and wife Richard and Mary Watkins of Prince Edward County, Virginia throughout the course of the Civil War.
“Kiss My Little Girls – 1861” is intended to be the first installment in a four part series following the lives of Richard and Mary Watkins.
Richard, a plantation owner and lawyer, enlisted in the 3rd Virginia Cavalry in 1861 as a private, eventually rose to the rank of Captain and served in almost every major campaign in the Eastern Theatre until he was disabled from a wound in 1864. He served in the Peninsula Campaign and fought in the Battles of Yorktown, Williamsburg and Seven Pines. He also served at the Battles of Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, and Petersburg; rode on Stuart’s “Great Ride” around the Union Army and rode over 600 miles during the Shenandoah Campaign.
Mary, thirteen years Richard’s junior, struggled to maintain a large plantation, three daughters and her extended family through famine, pestilence, plague and Yankee raids.
The play began in 1870 as Richard and Mary mourn the loss of their two youngest daughters to a diphtheria epidemic. In an attempt to assuage their grief, they read their past letters as they struggle with their current marital problems resulting from Richard’s Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). “Kiss My Little Girls-1861” was an epic Civil War Romance and a true-life, intimate view into Southern lives during one of our Nation’s greatest tragedies.
“Kiss My Little Girls – 1861” starred Robert Ruffin, a native of Mathews County, Virginia and great grandnephew of Edmund Ruffin, and Cynthia Janzen, a professional actress from Philadelphia. The play was directed by Mary Wadkins of Mathews, Virginia and featured the Set and Lighting Designs of Matthew Allar, Associate Professor of Theatre at The College of William and Mary and Costume Designs of Cynthia Janzen, owner of the museum theatre company History Firsthand. The production was stage managed by Allison Antonelli of Newport News.
The Play was funded by The Cook Foundation of Gloucester, Virginia, The Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.