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I dig jazz and single-malt scotch.  I write plays; I direct them too. I love STAR WARS more than is healthy. I walk my dogs every day, unless it's raining or terribly cold.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Boots on the Ground @ Trinity Rep looks at the War in Iraq

Last night I went to see BOOTS ON THE GROUND @ Trinity Repertory.


It's a piece of documentary theater culled from interviews gathered last fall from Rhode Island residents. It brings a unique personal perspective to the impact of the war in Iraq. By illuminating the details of the lives of Americans close to home and at war I have gained a level of intimacy with the soldiers and their families that had not entered my strata before seeing this play.

Early in the performance I found myself wondering, "Why isn't this a film documentary? How is this theater?" Soon after that thought I found myself abandoning the notion of "play" and "theater" and became involved with the stories, with the woven storylines, and tapestry storytelling being played before me.

There was humor mixed with the horror, with the hardship, with the unknown. One woman told the story of a beer can that she treasured, keeping it on its place on her night table until the return of her husband. A pastor told the story of a fallen soldier from his parrish, and in the soldiers wallet was a picture the pastor had given as a gift at the soldier as a boy, and how he had presided at the soldiers funeral.

The tales of camel spiders -- who ever heard of such a thing -- and they dared us to look them up online -- and you can -- CAMEL SPIDERS They are CREEPY...!

After the performance of the play (ACT I) -- the audience is invited to have a public discussion of the work, of the war, of ourselves (ACT II). The first woman who spoke last Staurday was the mother of a soldier in Iraq. She and her husband had come to the performance and had worn their United States Marine Corps shirts -- embroidered in gold on black heavy-wieght cotton sweatshirts. She said that only one person had asked her about her shirt all evening, and that was revealing to her. She was afraid that this play would not change people's attitiudes about the war -- actually, not so much attitudes, I think, as awareness. We walk around not seeing the war. We only feel it at the gas pump.

It was also noted that had the interviews been done in the past several months and not last year, that the tone of the piece would have been very different regarding the people's feelings about the Bush Administration. That a nation contemplating the impact of the war in Iraq post Hurrican Katrina and with gasoline prices over $3 in Rhode Island would demand a greater examination and response in the dialogues and monologues presented.

These are all interesting and valid points. To the mother of a soldier who sat with us last Saturday night, I can say that this play has made me aware of the war, of the soldiers fighting the war, and of my own consideration of those facts and those people.

It woke me up.

BOOTS ON THE GROUND plays thru May 21 at the Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, Rhode Island.

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