Sunday, July 6, 2008

Military Advisor

At the end of Blockbusters such as Iron Man you always see a Special Thanks to military advisor USAF Lt. Colonel So-and-So. Well, the brother of a friend of mine who is an actor and involved with the Provision Theater Company called me to attend a reading of a rough draft of a play about a young army medic struggling with PTSD after serving in Iraq. I agreed.

The Play revolves around a female Army Medic's struggles to reconnect within society circa 2005.

It's a fairly standard story. Young girl joins in 2000 in attempt to escape the small town farm life in Minnesota and finds herself in Iraq in 2003 or 2004. A terrible event occurs which she happens to survive. At home her father and her best friend don't understand the changed woman. She finds it difficult to handle regular dates. She's reluctant to go to the VA and when she does is paired with a bureaucratic doctor at first until she requests a new doctor and is helped by an unusual doctor who goes out of her way to save the young woman.

So after the reading the board expressed it's dismay at the playwrights use of profanity, the overuse of dialogue to stage scenes and move along the drama, the predictable device of unusual doctor finds a way to connect, and found they couldn't care about the main character because she was an "unlikable brat". Worst of all the play needed work and while suggestions could be made to the playwright he was under no obligation to make any changes. However, the board seemed happy the play didn't delve into politics and remained focused on this one young female soldier.

Then I was asked for my opinion. I stated I thought the play was supposed to be about the struggle to reconnect within normal society and what was missing was the second act in which the audience gets to see the resolution. The young girl reconnecting and re-entering into society. I then said while the character was sarcastic and sardonic I wasn't put off by her demeanor and thought it would be a good juxtaposition to expand the flashback of her prior to service being a happy go-lucky girl deciding to join up to "see the world and pay for college". Also I didn't think there was enough profanity, but then of course I was in the Marines.

I mentioned what everyone seemed to want was a modern retelling of The Odyssey. Because as I explained all of Odyssey's trials and tribulations are parables about a soldier trying to "return home" from war. I asked if they'd heard about Joseph P. Dwyer an army medic made famous by an iconic photograph who died as a result of his struggles with PTSD. No one had...

The board decided to not pursue the play.

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