Monday, November 21, 2011

ReENTRY at Actors: More Must-See Theater

Shows like ReENTRY are exactly why I love Actors Theater so damned much. When the lights came up at the end of the show last Thursday night, the audience was quick to bolt to its feet. Not only was it good theater, acted and directed by true artists, it made the audience feel privileged to have been witness to the telling of these powerful stories.

ReENTRY is based on interviews conducted by co-authors KJ Sanchez and Emily Ackerman with more than 100 active duty and veteran Marines and their families, and every word of the script cites these interviews verbatim. The show investigates what it means to return from war, and the struggles and successes of both these returning soldiers and their families.

After the show, Sanchez and Ackerman conducted a moving and compelling Q&A. And when the actors came out to watch from an empty row of seats, my heart actually skipped a little to see them. It's so rare that such a short show (it's intermission-less) provokes such profound feelings of appreciation and investment in the performers.

The best job I've ever had in my life was teaching a writing class to veterans for the Veterans' Upward Bound program in New Orleans. I taught this class for almost three years, and this was mostly pre-9/11 (in fact, I had a class the night of 9/11... instead of canceling class, I found a television, rolled it into my classroom, put on the news, and wept and ranted with the three students who showed up for class). My vets were mostly of the Vietnam and Korean Wars, old enough to be my father or grandfather (it was almost all men, always), and every minute of the two hours I spent with them each week were the best minutes of my week. Despite the fact that both of my grandfathers and one of my grandmothers served in WWII, I learned everything I know (admittedly, still little) about what it meant to be a solider from those men. That job was such an honor and a blessing. Politics aside, spend some quality time with strangers who have given years of their lives serving this country, and you will come away transformed and inspired.

And so ReENTRY is a taste of that. Powerful (true) words and powerful performances. Definitely a don't-miss show at Actors. It runs through December 17; for more information click here.

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