The Red Badge of Courage

by Edward J. Walsh and Robert Thomas Noll

While still in his early 20s, Stephen Crane wrote “The Red Badge of Courage,” an epic tale of a soldier’s fear and courage during America’s Civil War. His novel is recognized as a masterpiece of American literature.

It tells the timeless story of Henry Fleming, an 18-year-old who must come to grips with his failure to fight in a bloody conflict with Confederate forces. And it speaks to the terrors and doubts besetting soldiers then and now. And like the novel, this adaptation also speaks to the courage soldiers somehow find in the midst of carnage. 

Young Fleming joined the Union army dreaming of becoming a hero. Instead, on facing a Confederate charge, he throws his rifle down and runs. Wandering the woods, he meets other Union soldiers. They include a deranged “tattered man,” who believes Fleming is wounded. Fleming pretends that to be true. The soldiers assume that Fleming has, like them, lost contact with his regiment in the confusion of battle. Ashamed, Fleming lets them believe that lie and begins to search for his regiment. Fleming finds his regiment, but he now has a genuine head wound, inflicted by a panicky soldier who struck him with a rifle. Nursed back to health by a fellow soldier named Wilson, Fleming gains not only strength but also courage.When he overhears officers confiding that his regiment is comprised of “mule drivers” and “mud diggers” who are to be sacrificed in a pending battle, Fleming is outraged. Leaving fear behind, he engages in the climactic battle. And though he once ran from the clash of arms, he now stands and fights fearlessly — a true hero at last.

  • Cast Size: 12M 2W (Flexible Casting)
  • Running Time: 90+ minutes
  • Royalty Rate: $75 per performance

About the Playwrights

Edward J. Walsh has worn a lot of hats during his award-winning career as a writer. They include that of journalist, editor, and columnist to name a few of the many. But of them all, his favorite has always been that of the playwright. 

Laboring sometimes as a lone wolf and at other times as a collaborator, he has had plays produced in venues ranging from off-off-Broadway in the East to Seattle in the West, and to The Barter Theatre in the South. Further venues have extended from Kent State University all the way to exotic India, with productions translated into Hindi.

Most recently, Walsh’s one-act play “Stranded” was chosen as the first to be produced for streaming nationally by Playwrights Local. 

A graduate of John Carroll University, Walsh is also a member of the Dramatists Guild of America. 

Robert Thomas Noll’s plays have been performed hundreds of times throughout the United States (seven off-off-Broadway) and in many countries. Fifteen have been published with one translated into Dutch and another into Hindi.  Four were produced at the Cleveland Play House. During his years working at NBC, he wrote and produced the Emmy Award-winning nationally syndicated NBC children’s series, “Hickory Hideout” that is now available on YouTube.  

Noll teaches scriptwriting in the Tim Russert Department of Communication Department at John Carroll University. He is also adviser to the university’s television station and newspaper. He also spent nearly 20 years teaching playwriting at the Cleveland Play House. He has degrees from Kent State University and Ohio University.

He has been a Marketing Consultant for 35 Broadway national tours. He has written and edited publications for the Education Department of Playhouse Square Center in Cleveland and Radio City Music Hall.  He is an active member of the Dramatist Guild.  

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