Drama. By Sandra Fenichel Asher.
Cast: 6m., 2w. (Plus 8 either gender. Doubling possible; 4 characters may be offstage voices.) When students at Pine-Richland Middle School read a story by Gary Paulsen about a Vietnam veteran and the devastating effects of his inability to talk to his family about his war experiences, they wanted to know more about the people who had lived the history they were learning about in school. The school engaged Ms. Asher to develop interviewing techniques and questions with the students. Then off they went—students, teachers, and playwright—to talk to patients in a V.A. hospital and veterans, family members and other residents of their communities. They returned with written and taped interviews, plus a grandfather's journal kept during the Normandy invasion, a mother's collection of letters from her soldier husband, a cache of letters written by a relative who had served in the Civil War, exchanges with a Japanese veteran, and accounts of each interviewer's own feelings about these interviews. This play, commissioned by the school and Prime Stage in Pittsburgh, is the result of those intense, enlightening, and deeply moving experiences. Following performances, veterans and their family members in each audience have been inspired to step forward and continue the conversation. It is hoped that other schools and communities will use this play as a catalyst to further story-sharing—and to remember. Area staging. Approximate running time: 75 minutes.