Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Piece of My Heart -- SVP

There are many different reasons to see a show. Maybe you've seen the show before and you want to see it done differently. Maybe you've seen other shows by the same person and want to see a new one. Maybe you just trust the playhouse to do something that will make you think and will see anything they do. Maybe you have a season ticket subscription and want to support a particular theater.

My favorite reason for seeing a show is because I have a friend in the cast.

Saturday night, theater buddy Carolyn and I went to see Roberta in Somerset Valley Players' production of "A Piece of My Heart."  


The play revolves around the lives of five women and a singer who each served as nurses in the Vietnam War. The playwright, Shirley Lauro, based her 1991 story on oral histories recorded from actual nurses who served in the war. It covers their lives leading up to why they joined the service, their deployment, and their lives after they came back to the states. The cast is rounded out by one man who plays all of the roles of American Serviceman.

Susan Berlin at Talking Broadway describes the six archetypal women as following:
a self-described military brat who wants to be an Army nurse like her mother
a wide-eyed singer who gets booked as an entertainer at military camps
a small-town girl who sees military service as a way to break out
a wealthy young woman who horrifies her parents by applying for Red Cross work in the war zone
a half-Chinese, half-Italian nurse from New York City who thinks she's going to serve in a rehabilitation hospital in Hawaii
and an African-American career officer who takes an overseas posting to improve her professional standing.

As you can see from the list, it is a really hard play to cast. They need both an Asian-American woman and an African-American woman. Each of the 7 actors has a series of monologues, often spoken as someone else is saying theirs. They also each play different smaller roles (or the cast can be expanded to include these roles). The topic is intense. Though performed without many props, the performances are intense. In one scene an actress is "holding" a boot with a foot still in it -- even though there is nothing physically in her hand, all the raw emotion is still conveyed. It is not an easy play to perform, or to watch, but it is an important story to tell so these women are not completely forgotten about in history.

The performance at SVP was riveting. It is days later and I can't get it out of my mind. Though Samuel French, the owner of the show, says it is appropriate for audiences as young as 11, I am glad I left my 11 year old home. The show is running through November 10. I highly recommend seeing it.

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