A Piece of My Heart, a Drama About Female Volunteers in 1960s Vietnam
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The last date listed for A Piece of My Heart was Saturday October 10, 2009 / 8:00pm.
Currently at Gunston Arts Center
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Witness the most righteous story ever told -- as you've never seen it told before. In this beloved… More
by Shirley Lauro
Based on the book by Keith Walker
In 1994, The American Century Theater launched its quest to bring Washington area audiences the full range of 20th century American theater. It begins its 15th season with a fascinating, intense drama written in the only decade of that “American Century” that TACT has yet to explore—the nineties. The play is_ A Piece of My Heart_, by Shirley Lauro, and it celebrates the unsung women who served in Vietnam.
The 1991 play was inspired by the 1986 oral history of the same name, compiled by Keith Walker. Walker recounted the stories of 26 of the estimated 1,500 American women who went to Southeast Asia in the sixties—as nurses, civilian humanitarian workers, and entertainers. These women fought a different war than the servicemen, but it was often no less harrowing, involving battles with their consciences, with fear and frustration, with the South Vietnamese and the American military command, with substandard medical resources, and, always, with men.
Director Jason Beagle suggested the play to TACT artistic director Jack Marshall as a good fit with the company’s mission. The theater had begun its exploration of the Vietnam War’s impact with Happy Birthday, Wanda June (1970, produced by TACT in 2008), but that play is a dark fantasy; A Piece of My Heart is painfully real. “This is a play made for intimate performance spaces,” Marshall notes. “The Vietnam War was a distant, televised experience for much of the country. Our small theater gives audiences the ‘close ups’ that reveal, in nuances of expression and body language, what the women who served endured. And in Jason, we have a director with a deep personal response to the play—that’s critical.”
To bring A Piece of My Heart to life, Producer Sherri L. Perper and Beagle have recruited an ensemble largely new to TACT: Jeri Marshall, Melissa Bailey, Momo Nakamura, Robin Covington, Anne Veal, and Greg Gallagher (who has the daunting challenge of playing all twenty of the men in the women’s stories) join Christine Hirrell, last seen at TACT in the spring 2009 production of Native Son.
The set design is by HannaH J Crowell, who recently won accolades for her set for TACT’s production of Edward Albee’s Seascape. Lighting design is by Brian S. Allard, sound design by Timothy Morse, and costumes and properties by Ceci Albert. Stage managers are Christine Lange and Robert Pierce.
“This play makes us think—about the meaning of service, heroism, forgiveness, sacrifice, despair, depression, rejection, friendship, about trauma, life, and death, about the possibility of rebirth,” Beagle says. “I can’t imagine anyone not having a powerful response to it.”