There fourteen characters based on real stories and actual letters written by veterans and their family members from the American Revolution, all the way through current day Afghanistan. The story is told with a through line and a strong message but not chronologically. It examines the internal struggles and problems that soldiers face when returning home from combat and the sacrifice that is made by our veterans and their families.
We see one character who represents all the powerful and beautiful things of the military – discipline, teamwork and brotherhood. He is the only character who comes out more than once to share these lessons with us. All other character are only seen once, and they represent our glimpse of what sacrifice really is for our veterans and their families.
The play starts with our narrator sharing his lesson in discipline, then we see a Revolutionary soldier freezing at Valley Forge, a grieving mother remembering her son and his story of how he died in Vietnam, our narrator sharing his lesson in teamwork, our Bronx WWII veteran suffering with the effects of PTSD from his experience in Iwo Jima, our African American Vietnam Vet, our Iraq veteran addicted to the adrenalin of war, a wife and son dealing with the father’s absence while he is away at war on 3rd deployment in Afghanistan, a father in the wake of his soldier son’s suicide from Iraq, a chicano soldier dealing with the loss of his limb and his wife helps him to stand up again, a WWI soldier sharing his love for his brother in the trenches, an eloquent Civil War Soldier writing his final letter to his wife (the Dear Sarah letter), and finally our narrator sharing his lesson in brotherhood.
All props are stored and pull out of army trunk. The army trunk represents everything that is a soldier – life, death, friendship and survival.
The play is extremely easy to produce as my set is simply an army trunk and American flag which I travel with. I usually hang the flag up from the space I'm in, but I can travel with a projection stand to hang it up if that is easier. The only technical requirements I would need from the space are lighting and sound. I do not need a stage manager but I do need someone to help me build the lights and call the sound and lights for the production.
There is no intermission and the play runs 75 minutes long. After each monologue there is a 5 to 15 second transition into the next monologue with transition music. There is also a sound and light transition into the next piece. The show is extremely flexible and can adapt to just about any space. I have performed it Off Broadway, the Kennedy Center, Library of Congress which are theaters that have all the bells and whistles, but I have also done the show with only sound and no lights, as I did at Bannerman Castle on Bannerman Island.
The sound is run off my laptop thru the software Q-lab. It will need to be run to the soundboard for amplification. The cable to make that connection happen is not something I travel with and that should be the cable you have coming out of your sound system at the theatre. My laptop is a MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2014), and is all up to date.
I have all the sound files and lighting and sound cues digitally which can be emailed before hand. My script that I share with who calls the show has all the lighting and sound cues written in it so that you can follow along, and call the cues in the proper places.
My flag which is my biggest set piece, and the major part of my show is 6 feet x 9 feet. It is designed so that a pipe can drive through the fold at the very top of the flag, and then use some type of clear and very strong fishing line to tie at the ends of the poll, and then hang it up to the ceiling or a light grid over head. And if that is not an option, it can be hung up from a projection stand which I travel with.
Other set pieces are a small table and chair which I will need to borrow from the space I’m at. And my army trunk, old combat boots, two army- bags, 50 to 60 real veteran letters at the right and left corner of the stage, and that come out of each army duffle bag one to the left and one to the right.