I am directing a play about many things. I think one of the main things is standing in the face if adversity. This is something important to me.
At the end if the play Suspended, by Kurt Kalbfleisch, the older Marine salutes the younger. Both combat veterans, both struggling with the various things they witnessed. And they stand up to it.
This reminds me if another play I directed, Talking Woman by Mark Hiss. In it, the protagonist is haunted by an image if the soldier he was. This phantom soldier stands at attention for a powerful ending to the play.
That image still brings up lots of emotion for me. The actor we got did it perfectly and it was one of the more powerful moments in a play full of them. He was a combat veteran, a Marine, and just brought all if that raw emotion to the one simple act.
Fast forward to today and I am wondering how to draw that out of the actors I’ve cast, neither of whom are Marines. How to put what I saw Thursday night, a tough man standing up to a tough situation, into this moment. Thursday night was the San Diego Chargers’ salute to the military.
At halftime, they brought out combat veterans to stand before us and be honored. Each of them had been injured and each if them was shown on the Jumbotron as his deeds were enumerated. The last, an 18-year Marine veteran, came to attention a second after his name was called and I caught all of it, right there on the giant screen.
It was an incredible, intensely personal, look at a tough man in a difficult situation. And he stood up to it, relying on his training, standing strong. And I saw all of it.
I can’t tell you what it all was. More like a distillation of all of it. The fear we all have standing before large crowds, the injuries, the injustices, the memories, the battle to survive. The struggle that, though not over, is under control.
Then they set off fireworks as those brave men stood there, probably the most ill advised idea ever. I hope they told these battle-hardened veterans, before they accepted the honor, that they would be honored for going to war with flashes of light and loud booms.
More on PTSD later…
You can see Suspended performed in New Play Cafe’s production of Legends (in ten minutes or less) September 6-21 at DeMi Cafe Cafe. For information, visit http://newplaycafe.com/shows/.