From the Community Council for Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue.
Last week, I got to eavesdrop on rehearsals for Quiara Alegría Hudes’ Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue at Profile Theatre in Portland, and I was so pleasantly jolted back home listening to the actors and directors negotiate Spanglish, Spanglish accents, Spanglish music and Spanglish family matters, all in service to such a sharp script. The play reads to me like a critique of the US war machine and its exploitation of brown people, an amazing and kind of ruthless tribute to Rican dads, and one of the kindest provocations to Latino masculinity I’ve seen. I’m looking forward to the final production—the first in a trilogy Profile is producing throughout the year, including Water by the Spoonful, which is my favorite. Go see.
I attended the last dress rehearsal of Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue, which was a full run-through without pause. In sitting in a theatre in which you are the only person not connected to the production, you notice so many things you might not normally think of, such as the difference the absence of an audience makes, especially when, for example, a funny line is spoken. Getting to look behind the scenes makes crystal clear how much theatre is a collaborative endeavor with hundreds of small parts coming together to make an amazing whole.
When I came in to speak to the cast of this amazing play (Pulitzer Prize finalist!), they were so welcoming and eager to hear about my story as a Purple Heart recipient with multiple tours. We all sat in a small room, with more people than chairs, and I told my story. I described the depression, rage, and guilt that comes with surviving a coordinated ambush in combat and then being sent home to attempt a transition back into the civilian life. They created an atmosphere safe enough for me to tell them some of my most vulnerable stories including past thoughts of suicide and acts of self destruction. Afterwards, they asked questions for a while. Some about their characters, other about my life, but also some questions about veterans in general. These last questions, I noticed, were changing their views on how they pictured veterans. At the end I must have hugged each one of them before leaving.
-Sean Davis Military Advisor for Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue and Profile Community Council