By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Bill Massolia was watching the HBO documentary “Last Letters Home” when he was touched by the impassioned missives by servicemen and women, and their family members.
“I thought they were beautiful pieces of writing,” Massolia said.
He was so inspired that he put the letters on stage as “Letters Home,” a play that places the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq front and center.
“It is about what they have to go through today and what that experience is like,” Massolia said. “It’s nonpolitical in nature. It’s more of a tribute to them.”
The production is also inspired by the New York Times Op-Ed Article “The Things They Wrote,” and additionally uses letters and correspondences from Frank Schaeffer’s books, “Voices from the Front,” “Letters Home from America’s Military Family,” “Faith of Our Sons” and “Keeping Faith.” The portrays the soldier experience in the ongoing conflicts. The initial production was critically acclaimed and was nominated for a Joseph Jefferson Award for “Outstanding New Play.”
“It’s an emotional piece of theater, a content-driven piece of theater,” he said. “But I think it’s very informative and timely and, in many ways, a sober reminder that we’re still involved in those conflicts.”
He said it’s important to note that the play, which originated at Massolia’s Griffin Theatre in Chicago, isn’t political.
“I wasn’t interested in that,” Massolia said. “I left that to the politicians and media. I wanted to get at the human story and the human elements of the war, through the eyes of the men and women who are fighting it.
“It’s a very different viewpoint than what the politicians or the media might portray.”
“Letters Home” features 10 actors and each one plays a solider or serviceman or woman.
“They perform a series of their letters, starting from the beginning of deployment to the end of deployment,” he said. “I have one actress, who is older than the other folks, who plays four different mothers. You see her letters perform as well. She gives the viewpoint of people at home basically fighting the war as well.”
IF YOU GO
What: “Letters Home”
When: 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12
Where: Chandler Center for the Arts, 250 N. Arizona Ave., Chandler
Cost: $26 and $34
Information: 480-782-2674 or chandlercenter.org