Nazareth College Arts Center is pleased to present Griffin Theatre Company’s Letters Home on Friday, November 2, 2012, at 7 p.m. in the Callahan Theater.
In 2003, The New York Times marked the 50th anniversary of the holiday President Dwight D. Eisenhower renamed Veterans’ Day (formerly known as Armistice Day) with an op-ed piece titled “The Things They Wrote,” consisting of excerpts from letters written by five American servicemen and women who lost their lives in Iraq.
Those powerful letters – as well as a subsequent collections published throughout 2003 and 2004 – led to the production of Last Letters Home, an hour-long HBO documentary by Bill Couturié about 10 U.S. soldiers killed during Operation Iraqi Freedom. At the same time, author Frank Schaeffer began compiling correspondence from American troops serving in the Middle East – one of them being his own son – in a number of books, including Keeping Faith: A Father-Son Story About Love (2003), Faith Of Our Sons: A Father’s Wartime Diary (2004), and Voices From The Front: Letters Home From America’s Military Family (2005). Collectively, these resources inspired and provided source material for Griffin Theatre Company’s production, Letters Home, adapted by William Massolia, the company’s artistic director and founder.
“These letters were written under the most difficult of circumstances; the disorientation of training, deployment, separation from family and loves ones, and combat and occupation duties in Afghanistan and Iraq,” the Griffin Theatre Company states. “One theme seems to unite their diverse voices: the belief that the person standing beside you is more important than you are. [The letters] also help define for the audience patriotism and what it means to serve our country today, through acts of bravery, compassion, social responsibility, sense of community, and brotherhood.”
As its name implies, Letters Home consists primarily of letters written by men and women serving overseas; however the production also includes several poignant letters from parents. Using minimal props and set pieces, the actors perform each letter as a dramatic monologue against a backdrop of photos and video taken directly from soldiers’ blogs, websites, and social media pages. The result is a gripping narrative about the experiences of a generation of soldiers who went to war for reasons that are still being debated.
Griffin Theatre Company’s original 2010 production of Letters Home received immediate critical acclaim and was nominated for a Joseph Jefferson Award for Outstanding New Play.
The performance of Letters Home at Nazareth College Arts Center was scheduled to coincide with Veterans’ Day, as closely as the company’s touring schedule would allow, which is especially important to the Nazareth College community, given its recent inclusion in the 2013 Guide to Military Friendly Schools. The guide ranks Nazareth in the top 15 percent of colleges, universities, and trade schools nationwide committed to helping veteran-students make the challenging transitions from military to academic life.
Nazareth maintains a strong commitment to its veteran students with multiple resources, such as special grants to be used toward tuition and fees, and help finding internships with vet-friendly businesses and organizations. The College’s newly opened office of veterans’ affairs, led by Coordinator of Veteran Student Enrollment and Support Services, Jeremy Bagley, provides veteran students with assistance in different areas such as figuring out complicated financial aid packages or talking about the difficulties of transitioning from the military to a classroom setting.
Tickets to Letters Home are $10-$40. Subscriptions to the Nazareth College Arts Center 2012-2013 Season are still available; subscribers receive a 20% discount when purchasing tickets to five or more different shows.
For tickets, call – or visit – the Box Office: 585-389-2170 or order online: artscenter.naz.edu.
The Nazareth College Arts Center Box Office is located on campus, at 4245 East Avenue, Rochester, New York, 14618. Regular box office hours are Monday- Friday, 11am – 5pm and 11am until curtain time on performance days.
The Nazareth College Arts Center’s 2012-2013 Subscription Series is sponsored by M&T Bank, Wendy’s Restaurants of Rochester, and the New York State Council on the Arts.