Sunday, November 24, 2013

Review in Brief: The Veterans Play Project

"You know what we don't need? Another person who says 'thank you for your service.' They don't even know where we served."

When one gets used to attending theater in typical venues, it can be nice to see it moved to a new location. 

The Veterans Play Project, a collaboration between Mixed Blood and local veterans, does just that. Set in a Fort Snelling training area, it provides a more rugged setting for its collection of vignettes about the veteran community's service (both in training and in action) and reception back at home.

Many of the players are former service members themselves, and their experience (and general lack of performance experience) lends a rawness to this project that serves it well. Although the play is a work of fiction, it's entirely based on real experiences service members have had, which were collected through an extensive interview process. 

The actors are clearly emotionally connected to this subject matter, and that raw emotion makes their stories hit home. The disconnect between general civilians and service members has been extensively discussed (particularly in recent media concerning PTSD and veteran health and mental health care), and this project is perfectly poised to help bridge that gap. 

Veterans have an understandably difficult time figuring out how to explain their experiences to the general public, and that hesitation makes it that much more difficult for the public to understand their service and try to help integrate them back into society. It's a pleasure to see a venue for those conversations to take place, those experiences (especially the negative ones) to be related, and communities to learn how to move forward in a positive way for everyone involved. 

"Service is more than just war. Only 5% of them ever see it. Please don't make a movie that glorifies war."

Each vignette is interspersed with music, some of which is quite compelling. A particularly lovely rendition of "Into the Wild Blue Yonder" is definitely a highlight.

The Veterans Play Project is a good starting point for anyone curious about the experiences of service members, and anyone interested in learning how to communicate with veterans should definitely check it out as a great starting point for those conversations. It's a respectful, informative connection, and the Fort Snelling setting fits it well.