San Juan National Historical Park
Division of Interpretation
Performance, Historical or Hysterical?
Sound Organizations Win Either Way.
As a fund raising function, or for historically correct educational
entertainment, organizations and schools in the Puget Sound area have the
opportunity to offer "An Evening With George Pickett." The program
is a tragicomic, critically acclaimed, two-man play made available in cooperation
with the National Park Service.
By sponsoring a performance, organizations may raise funds for themselves
and the Service's interpretative program on San Juan Island.
The play accurately portrays the bumbling yet courageous life of the
the legendary Pickett of "Picketts Charge" at Gettysburg, who
lost two-thirds of his division in the battle. He was stationed on San
Juan Island before the Civil War and was a critical figure in the Pig War there that never occurred.
In the performance, Pickett rises from the grave to tell the truth about
his life and dispute the extraordinary, but highly complimentary, exaggerations
about him that his wife brings to the public for the 50 years following
his death in 1875.
As an outreach venture for the Park's interpretive program actor/comedian
Mike Vouri, Park Ranger/Interpreter at the Park and a leading expert on
Pickett's life, joins with veteran folk singer Mike Cohen, to perform the
two-act play written by Vouri.
the narrative with traditional songs of the period that allude to incidents
in Pickett's life. He is a park volunteer who is an ecopsychologist
in real life.
Of special interest is Pickett's description of the following historical
event leading to the establishment of the Park:
Crisis: June 15, 1859. San Juan Island, Washington Territory:
An American settler, Lyman Cutlar shot and killed a pig belonging to the
British Hudson's Bay Company because it was rooting in his garden on this
island that is in dispute between the two countries. British authorities
threaten to arrest Cutlar, American citizens request U.S. military protection
and a company of the 9th U.S. Infantry under Captain George E. Pickett
encamps at South Beach. The British respond with a fort on Garrison Bay
creating the potential for an international "Pig War."
The Pig War was peacefully arbitrated by Kaiser Wilhelm I, in 1772 ,
without a shot being fired other than at Cutlar's pig. Today, both British
and American camps make up San
Juan Island National Historical Park.
"An Evening With George Pickett" has successfully played for
three summers to enthusiastic audiences at the San Juan Community Theatre
&Art Centre, including a 10-week run in 1998 as part of the theater's
The production intimately covers Pickett's childhood in Virginia and
Illinois, his attendance at West Point, participation in the Mexican War,
fighting Indians in Texas, the San Juan Island years and his participation
in the Civil War.
A veteran actor, Vouri played Pickett to enthusiastic
houses at the The San Juan Community Theatre and Art Centre for the past
three years. He has also appeared as Elyot Chase in in the Theatre's 1996
production of "Private Lives" directed by Andrew V. McLaglen.
Vouri was the curator of the exhibition, "George Pickett and the Frontier
Army Experience" which ran 1994-95 at the Whatcom Museum of History
and Art in Bellingham. He is currently at work on a book about the "PigWar."
plays "Private Mike, " and sings period folk songs in conjunction
with Pickett's story. He is a veteran folk musician who, along with his
brother, John Cohen (New Lost City Ramblers) played a prominent role in
the New York City folk scene in the 1950s. Cohen holds a Doctorate in Environmental
Psychology and is the founder and director of Project
NatureConnect, a nonprofit nature based psychology organization on
San Juan Island.