In the late 18th century, Europeans and Americans both were entranced by a dark tale, full of hope, that took place off the Franklin County coast.

“The surprising yet real and true voyages and adventure of Monsieur Perre Viaud. A French sea-captain” read like a Stephen King novel, and yet, it was all true.

In 1766, the story had taken place off the coast, between Dog Island and St. Marks. Written originally in French, and then translated in 1774 into English, the story is grim and captivating, and thanks to an Auburn University scholar, and the work of local playwrights and actors, it has been transformed into a play to be presented this weekend at the Chapman Auditorium

The Carrabelle Lighthouse Association is presenting the first indoor performance of the maritime heritage play, “1766: Shipwrecked on Dog Island” this Friday and Saturday evenings. (See box)

The production is based on a well-documented event lived by a group of French merchants while traveling from Haiti to New Orleans. Their ship "Le Tigre" was destroyed in a hurricane as they were passing Dog Island. Few remained alive, but those who did dealt with the hostile elements of the Forgotten Coast wilderness.

Viaud’s account tells of frightening nocturnal beasts and describes their own ultimate appearance as "unrecognizable as humans.” Being lost in the deep Apalachicola forest for 81 days would be an unthinkable hardship, be it 2017 or 1766. But the strongest survive, and desperate times can mean desperate acts.

This exciting historic tale has a great cast of characters portrayed by talented actors from the Panhandle Players. Viaud is played by Frederic Kahler, and the sea captain, Antonio La Couture by Hank Kozlowsky, La Couture’s wife is played by Renee Valentine, and their son, Louis, by River Sheridan, the 11-year-old actor who stole the show last fall at an outdoor performance of the play at Lantern Fest.

Barry Hand will perform as the salve Emilio, and Bob Inguagiato, who also appeared in the LanternFest, will play Monsieur Desclau, Wesley Davis appears as an Indian, and David Adlerstein serves as the narrator

This amazing true tale was first adapted into a play by Caroline llardi and Don Denig for the first Lantern Fest in 2009. Last year, Denig, a seasoned actor who appeared on the television show “The Walking Dead” for three seasons, took the play in a new direction with more historical content and further character development.

This authentic tale was originally discovered and extensively researched by Prof. Robin Fabel of Auburn University in the files of the Library of Congress.

Everyone is invited to support the 1893 Crooked River Lighthouse by attending these benefit performances. Many locals may recall the terrible fire that destroyed the playground ship, The Carrabella, a favorite feature of the lighthouse park. Through donations and gifts, the Crooked River Lighthouse is closing in on the goal of replacing the ship. The hope is that this benefit will generate the remaining funds needed. Any additional money raised will go towards the next need - repainting the 103-foot tower.

The production is assisted with financial support from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs and Franklin County Tourist Development Council.

For more information contact the Crooked River Lighthouse at 697-2732 or carrabellelighthouse@gmail.com.

Please note: Thematic elements of the play may not be suitable for young children.