By Kelly Luck
The playwright of “Warriors Rising” once told a story of how she met a fellow veteran who, having come home from Vietnam, found no welcome but the rage of protestors. Sitting alone by himself, he had been greeted by a black man, who came up to him, welcomed him back, and handed him a cigar, saying “I think you need this more than I do.” This incident has now been transmuted into a single act play at the Squeezebox theater.
In it, we meet the two strangers, the small-town boy from Missouri who never even saw a black man before he was ten, and the preacher who grew up in the deep middle of segregated Mississippi. They tell about their different backgrounds, each struggling against a system that does not wish to see them or to acknowledge the sins against them. The incident is replayed, and each of them walks away a different man.
The second act brings us closer to home, in the wake of the Charleston church massacre. Again, two strangers: a black lawyer and a white soldier. Another encounter in another airport. What follows is a frank discussion of a world that hasn’t really changed that much. But there is humanity in the exchange, and where there is humanity there is hope. And sometimes, what goes around, comes around.
The Charlie Mike Theatre Company is dedicated to telling stories for and by “the service community”: that is, military and first responders. As a veteran, this reviewer was particularly interested to see the approach taken.
It must be said that they bring real truth to the material: there was much that this reviewer knew all too well to be true. It is a raw truth: this is definitely not one for children. But for those who have gained battle scars of their own, be it through combat or the million ways in which society declares war against itself, it may just be a good way to help with the healing.