Water/Happiest Rep: Design & Production Team

Josh Hecht


Josh Hecht (Artistic Director) is a Drama Desk Award-winning director whose productions have been seen in New York at MCC Theater, The Cherry Lane, The Duke on 42nd Street, New World Stages, Culture Project, regionally at The Guthrie Theater, the Berkshire Theatre Group, the Humana Festival at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Signature Theatre (DC) and internationally at the Dublin Arts Festival and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and elsewhere. His collaboration with Ping Chong and Company was commissioned by and premiered at The Kennedy Center before touring the northeast. His writing has received the support of the Jerome Foundation. He is formerly the Director of Playwright Development at MCC Theater and the Director of New Play Development at WET. He’s served on the faculty of the New School for Drama MFA Directing program, the Fordham University MFA Playwriting program, Purchase College SUNY’s BFA Dramatic Writing program and has been a guest artist at The Juilliard School, NYU’s Dramatic Writing MFA, Carnegie Mellon’s MFA Playwriting, University of Minnesota’s BFA Acting program and others.


Peter Ksander

Scenic  Design

Peter is a scenographer and media artist whose stage design work has been presented both nationally and internationally. In 2006 he joined the curatorial board of the Ontological-Hysteric Incubator. In 2008 he won an Obie award for the scenic design of Untitled Mars (this title may change), and In 2014 he won a Bessie award for the visual design of This Was the End. He holds a MFA from the California Institute of the Arts, is an Associate Professor at Reed College and is an associate company member with the Portland Experimental Theatre Ensemble. This is his second design with Profile having designed Bright Half Life last season.


Brynne Oster-Bainnson

Costume Design

Brynne received her BA from Drew University in 2013. She works as the wardrobe supervisor for Broadway Rose Theatre Company and is also the costumer for David Douglas High School and St. Mary’s Academy where she enjoys spreading the love of costumes to the next generations. Brynne has worked as a costume designer for Broadway Rose, Third Rail, and CoHo. Highlights of her recent shows Fly By Night (BRTC), The Nether (TR), Angry Brigade (TR),  and db (CoHo). She is very excited to work with Profile for the first time on these two incredible shows with this outstanding creative team.


Carl Faber

Lighting Design 

In three seasons with Profile Carl has designed: Orlando, Dead Man’s Cell Phone, Eyes for Consuela.  Recent designs with Artists Rep (Grand Concourse, Broomstick), Third Rail (The Angry Brigade), Broadway Rose (Trails, Beehive – Drammy Best Lighting), Theatre Vertigo (Carnivora), NWCT (Mary Poppins).  Regional: Arena Stage, Boston ICA, Williamstown Theatre Festival.  Touring Production/IT: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.  Touring Associate Lighting/Video: Bon Iver, The National.  Lighting Artist: Eaux Claires Music Festival.  Founding Member: Woodshed Collective NYC.  Staff Assistant Lighting Designer: Portland Opera.  Broadway Assistant Designer: The Book of Mormon.  Education: Catlin Gabel, Vassar College.  Member: United Scenic Artists Local USA-829.  www.carlfaber.com

Represented by United Scenic Artists


Matt Wiens

Sound Design

Matt is excited to be a part of Profile’s Quiara Alegria Hudes season. Recent work includes Pen/Man/Ship, How I learned What I Learned, and You For Me For You, at Portland Playhouse. Matt would like to thank his family for their support and encouragement!


Kyra Bishop Sanford

Props Master

Kyra is excited to be part of this production! Local credits include scenic and props designer and TD for You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown (Enlightened Theatrics) and Troilus and Cressida (Portland Actors Ensemble), scenic and props designer for The Pillowman (Life in Arts), production designer and TD for Men Run Amok (part of Fertile Ground 2017), props master for The Events (Third Rail Rep), Plaid Tidings (Enlightened Theatrics) and Reborning (Beirut Wedding), as well as carpentry and paint work at various theatres in the area. She received her BFA in Scenic Design from the Conservatory of Theatre Arts at Webster University. www.sanfordscenic.com


Jamie Rea

Production Manager

From Berlin’s aerialist street ensemble, Grotest Maru to Wellington’s all female dance ensemble JAVA, Jamie has been exploring this powerful tool of connection and change for over 2 decades. Serving as an award winning director, designer, and performer, she has worked up and down both coasts and as far away as Australia. She does however also love to plant roots, building a human-resource-focused way of working, as a foundation for extraordinary art. To that end, it has been her pleasure to serve as Production Manager for Jewish Theatre Collaborative for 9 years, for Enlightened Theatrics for the past 3 years, and by project for many others including Sojourn Theatre and The Beirut Wedding World Theatre Project.


Baleigh Isaacs

Stage Manager

Baleigh is delighted to be working with Profile Theatre for the first time, marking her Portland debut after spending a dozen years in Chicago. Her Chicago credits include productions at Steppenwolf, Lookingglass, Chicago Shakespeare, American Blues, Remy Bumppo, and Drury Lane as well as Million Dollar Quartet, Love, Loss, and What I Wore, Old Jews Telling Jokes, and Motherhood the Musical.  Baleigh has also worked with the Alliance Theatre and Georgia Shakespeare in her hometown of Atlanta.  Her NYC credits include Les Miserables, The Rhythm Club, and Summer of ’42.

Member of Actor’s Equity Association


Breydon Little

Assistant Stage Manager

Breydon is ecstatic to be working with in rep with Profile this fall! He is a stage manager with credits at Portland Playhouse, and independent projects with Michael Streeter, Beth Thompson, and Elizabeth Huffman. He is a proud member of Theatre Vertigo and a production manager at Clackamas High School.


Ashlin Hatch

Assistant Director

Ashlin is thrilled to be collaborating on her first project with Profile. Other recent directorial credits include Nice Town, Normal People (Rhizome Theater Co.) and This Must Be the Place (Reed College)—both devised, interview-based performances aiming to sow seeds of social cohesion, compassion, and kindness.

From the Director: What is it about a road trip?

What is it about a road trip that is so enticing? The adventure that each new place offers, the freedom to sing at the top of your lungs, the feeling of the wind in your hair as you see the country passing by, the intimacy that comes between people sharing a small space, the hours and hours of freedom to contemplate.

For me, 26 Miles provides that contemplative space. In that space, a marathon of questions arises: What happens when we are faced with adversity? With prejudice? With misunderstanding? How do we react when faced with life challenges that threaten to sink us? What are the coping mechanisms that we put into place so we can survive? How do we confront those moments of choice? What does it take to reach across canyons and gulfs and expanse to connect with those who have become distant to us?

This play is about the journey, the discovery that each new mile brings, the rigor with which connection between people is achieved. This is a play about revealing the cracks, about letting go, about a family wrestling to piece together their broken parts. This is a play about a mother and daughter on a journey; about reaching a place where you can allow yourself to fly free.

Rebecca Martinez, Director of 26 Miles.

26 Miles runs June 15-25, 2017.

Buy Tickets Here. 

26 Miles Cast and Creative Team

Alex Ramirez de Cruz
Alex is a Portland area actor, deviser and theatre-maker. Some of her favorite credits include: Tomás and the Library Lady (Oregon Children’s Theatre), DB (COHO Theatre), The Oregon Trail (Portland Center Stage), TeatroSOLO: Deseo (Boom Arts Theatre), Passion Play (Shaking The Tree & Profile Theatre), Dance For a Dollar, (Miracle Theatre) and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (Portland Playhouse). She is dedicated to creating original devised theatre and is a proud member of String House, an independent producing title and new works laboratory, nominated for two Drammy Awards for “Best Devised Production.”

Julana Torres
Julana is a Portland local with an extensive career in music, dance, and theatre. She is ecstatic to be performing for the first time with Profile Theatre. Most recently Julana originated the role of Doña Teresa in Óye Oyá at Milagro Theatre  and Grandma in Artists Repertory’s world premiere musical Cuba Libre. Other musical theater credits include Fame (Carmen), West Side Story (Carmelita), Peter Pan (Tiger Lily 2), and South Pacific (Ensemble). Julana also established the full time dance program for Franklin High School, and was the creator of successful arts showcase for youth Arts Alive. She can also be seen performing as the lead singer for popular latin jazz orchestra The Bobby Torres Ensemble.

Jimmy Garcia
After studying at Southern Oregon University and performing at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Jimmy is happy to be back in Portland where he began his acting career years ago on the stages of Milagro Theater, Stark Raving Theater and Portland Center Stage. In Southern Oregon, he performed a variety of roles working with such esteemed directors as Bill Rauch, Libby Appel and Pat Patton to name a few. He has most recently performed in Milagro’s world premiere Òye Oya, ART’s A Civil War Christmas, Profile Theater’s Elliot: A Soldier’s Fugue, and can next be seen in Profile’s The Happiest Song Plays Last.

Chris Harder
Chris is honored to work with Profile Theatre. Credits include: Marjorie Prime, The Skin of Our Teeth, We Are Proud…, Intimate Apparel, Ten Chimneys, The History Boys, Chasing Empires Soul (Artists Rep), Cyrano, Othello, The Receptionist, Antigone, JAW (PCS), Head. Hands. Feet. (Shaking The Tree), Mother Teresa is Dead, Angels in America, Twelfth Night (Portland Playhouse), The Turn of the Screw (Portland Shakespeare Project), The Snowstorm (Many Hats/CoHo), The Yellow Wallpaper, Fool For Love (CoHo), Shining City (Third Rail.) Chris was a member of Sowelu Theatre Ensemble for seven seasons, he teaches acting at Portland Actors Conservatory and at Artists Rep.

Rebecca Martinez
Rebecca  is a Brooklyn-based director and choreographer with deep roots in Portland. Rebecca is an ensemble member of Sojourn Theatre, a Co-Curator of Working Theater’s Directors Salon, a member of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab, INTAR’s Unit52, the 2015-16 SDCF Observership Class, the Latinx Theatre Commons Steering Committee, and an Associate Member of SDC. Awards include four Portland Theater Drammy Awards (7 Great Loves and The War Project: 9 Acts of Determination – Sojourn Theatre; The Brother/Sister Plays – Portland Playhouse) and the Lilla Jewel Award for Women Artists. Rebecca is an artist with the Center for Performance and Civic Practice and a 2017 Drama League Directing Fellow.

Daniel Meeker
Scenic Design

Sarah Gahagan
Costume Design
Sarah is a costume and set designer for theatre, dance, festivals and stop-motion animation film as well as being adjunct theatre instructor and resident costume designer at Portland Community College. She has done theatre design and collaboration work with many of Oregon’s beloved arts organizations including: Artist Repertory Theatre, Oregon Children’s Theatre, Profile Theatre, Miracle Theatre Group, Oregon Contemporary Theatre, Oregon Ballet Theatre, and Michal Curry Design. Sarah has received Drammy Awards for her costume design work on Eurydice, James and The Giant Peach, Trojan Women, El Quijote, and A Year With Frog and Toad.

Kristeen Crosser
Lighting Design
Kristeen is excited to be working with Profile again. Some of her favorite Profile credits include lighting design for Buried Child and Thief River and scenic design for My Children My Africa and Master Harold and the Boys. She received her BA from Centre College in Danville, KY and received her MFA in lighting design from Wayne State University, Hilberry Company in Detroit, MI.  She has designed lighting and/or scenery for several area and regional theatres including Artists Rep’s Eurydice, Foxfinder and The Understudy, Miracle Theatre’s Mariela in the Desert and Oedipus El Rey. Oregon Children’s Theatre’s Goosebumps the Musical and Bad Kitty. Third Rail Repertory Theatre’s The New Electric Ballroom and Northwest Children’s Theatre’s Snow White.

Sharath Patel
Sound Design

Sharath was raised between Appalachia and India while spending the following years studying across Europe and New England. He spent nearly a decade as a lead sound designer in New York City. Recent design highlights include As You Like It (CalShakes Oakland); The Royale (ACTheatre Seattle); Free Outgoing (East West Players Los Angeles); Grand Concourse (Artists Rep). Regional/International credits include designs in New York City, D.C., Boston, Norfolk, Raleigh, Aspen, India, France, England, Germany, Romania, Yale, Reed, Harvard, Fordham, Columbia, Willamette, Ohio, Portland State, and Butler University. Sharath holds a MFA in Sound Design from the Yale School of Drama and currently is a Resident Artist at Artists Repertory Theatre. www.sharathpatel.com

Sarah Andrews
Props Master
Sarah earned her BFA in Acting in 2014, since this she has worked and lived in Portland. She has worked with many theatre companies including Tears of Joy, Staged!, Post 5 Theatre, Milagro, Lakewood, Oregon Children’s Theatre and defunkt theatre. She also works in community-based projects such as Buskers In The Burg in Ellensburg, WA and the Summer Solstice in Seattle. She also volunteers with theatre projects in Oregon prisons. She wrote, produced and directed an original adaptation of “Life is a Dream” and the children’s show Pearl and the Five-Headed Dragon.”  She has also taught workshops on puppetry at the Kennedy Center Theatre Festival. Currently, she is producing Thom Pain (based on nothing) by Will Eno.

Miranda Russ
Stage Manager
Miranda has a BA in Drama, with Honors in Stage Management, from University of California, Irvine and an MFA in Stage Management from Columbia University in the City of New York. Her professional credits include: Gigi on Broadway; Othello at Classic Stage Company; Birds of Paradise at New York International Fringe Festival; Summer Valley Fair at the New York Musical Theatre Festival; and more. Having recently relocated back to the West Coast, Miranda is enjoying working with the amazing Portland theatre community, with companies such as Profile Theatre, Artists Repertory Theatre, and Third Rail Repertory Theatre.

Madilynn Garcia
Production Manager
Madilynn is a native Texan and thrilled to be working at Profile this season. Some of her past production management work includes Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue at Profile Theatre, The Nether at Third Rail, as well as work at The Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The ZACH, and UT Austin. Madilynn also serves on the Diversity and Inclusion Committee for The United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) where she coordinates the Gateway Program, which seeks to promote underrepresented, emerging artists in the area of production

Esther McFadden
Production Assistant
Esther is glad to be back with Profile after opening the season with Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue (PA). Recent credits include The Talented Ones (PA), Trevor (PA), and The Skin of Our Teeth (PA) with Artists Repertory Theatre, The Angry Brigade (SM) with Third Rail Repertory Theatre, Upside Down: A Musical Tale After the Christ (SM) with The Upside Down Theater Company, and A Christmas Carol (PA), Julius Caesar, The Heidi Chronicles,To Kill A Mockingbird, and Blues for Mister Charlie (SM Intern) with Trinity Repertory Company. She is a graduate of Emerson College with a BFA in Stage and Production Management and BA in Writing, Literature, and Publishing.

From the Artistic Director: 26 Miles


Photo by Edwin Pabon

26 Miles is, in my opinion, one of Quiara Alegria Hudes’ most intimate plays. Far from the psychic landscape of war that Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue presents, 26 Miles is a story about mothers and daughters, about the mistakes we make as parents and as children, about the unique ways that, in the words of Doug Wright, family “both wounds us and applies the salve.”

A couple of months ago, we did a private table read of the play – just director Rebecca Martinez, this cast, a couple board members members and stakeholders, and me. Under fluorescent lights, on thinly-padded folding chairs, the actors read the script cold. We spent the next 80 minutes alternately laughing and crying together. Afterwards we found ourselves sharing our own stories of having – or being – single parents, of navigating more than one culture in a family, of addiction and recovery, of cultural pride and the pressure to conform or assimilate, of the courage it takes to forge one’s own identity and the challenge to claim one’s cultural history.

It never ceases to amaze me the power of actors to make themselves vulnerable, or of good writing to lead us into a more compassionate, more empathic space. We listened to each other’s stories, and to the story Quiara had written, and in so doing, we came to know ourselves better. That’s the power of the theater. For 80 minutes, if we listen and allow ourselves to be moved, we might recognize ourselves in each other and make a less lonesome world.

26 Miles runs June 15-25, 2017.

Get tickets HERE.

26 Miles Sneak Peek Podcast

Get a sneak peek of Quiara Alegría Hudes’ 26 Miles with this brief podcast with an introduction by Artistic Director Josh Hecht and listen to a scene from the play with actors Julana Torres and Alex Ramirez de Cruz.


Buy tickets to 26 Miles here.

Pictured: Director Rebecca Martinez with actors Julana Torres and Alex Ramirez de Cruz. Photo by Sharath Patel.

From the Community Council: Getting It Right

I’m honored to be the military advisor for Elliot: A Soldier’s Fugue at Profile Theatre, and I’ll tell you why. We’ve all seen dozens if not hundreds of works of military fiction written, directed, and produced by creatives who mean well, their heart is in the right place, but they don’t ask veterans for their advice on their work and they focus on the veterans PTSD and/or their injuries.

As far as the details go, I am very grateful that people believe the military experience is worth writing about, but some of that gratitude disappears, whether I like it or not, when I see small things done wrong. For example, the salute is a simple action that is done wrong so many times and could be so easily corrected. Only the tip of your ring finger touches the end of your right eyebrow. Easy! But it is almost always overlooked and when that happens the whole work loses credibility, at least to the population of the audience the work is trying to honor. It sounds nitpicky to many, but that is what the military is: attention to detail.

Not only did Josh, the artistic director, and Lauren, the Director of Education and Community Engagement, ask me to come in and speak to the actors, they believed in my idea to bring veterans in before a showing of the play so the audience could get a better understanding of the diversity of our veteran population.

I would like to speak on both of these happenings:

First, 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.

Last Sunday, before the show we had a panel of veterans meet some audience members and take questions. On the panel was a Vietnam Veteran who is also a Native American, a former Marine with five (3 to Iraq and 2 to Afghanistan) combat tours, a female veteran who was deployed to protect the Eastern Seaboard on a Destroyer on 9/11, and an Army infantryman who lost both legs in Iraq, and me. After I introduced them all and asked a few questions we opened it up to the audience and the questions were amazing, respectful, and intelligent. By the end of our little session we had changed many of their views on what, exactly, a veteran is. I know this because they told us… in those words. There is a stereotype of “the veteran” in our society. We are supposedly all white, male, gun ho, non-creatives with our souls and hearts torn apart by war. That stereotype was completely blown away after the meeting. I saw it happen in real time, and that is why I’m proud to be a part of Elliot: A Soldier’s Fugue. This play helps people see the humanity in the warrior.

I’m honored to be a part of this production because it’s been my mission to not only help other veterans for the past 10 years, but it’s also been my mission to change how those who haven’t served see our military members. Yes, we have lived through very traumatic events and many of us suffer from those memories or even physical injuries, but we, as a society, should focus on our abilities and not our disabilities. We need to know that our veteran population (10% of this country) are just as diverse as the population as a whole.

-Sean Davis
Military Advisor for Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue and Profile Community Council

Profile’s Community Council are people from the Portland area of varying ages, ethnicities and  backgrounds who are invited to view the backstage process from beginning to end and share their perspectives with our communities.




From the Community Council: Alone in the Audience

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.

-Pancho Savery, Profile Community Council

Profile’s Community Council are people from the Portland area of varying ages, ethnicities and  backgrounds who are invited to view the backstage process from beginning to end and share their perspectives with our communities.

Community Profile: Our City’s Veterans

On Monday, November 13th we celebrated the end of this year-long program!  The emotional evening was a public performance of the veterans’ writing staged with professional actors on the Alder Stage.  

This reading was presented in conjunction with our rotating repertory production of Water By The Spoonful and The Happiest Song Plays Last, the final two plays in a trilogy of work centered around Elliot Ortiz, a veteran of the Iraq war.


From Artistic Director Josh Hecht

One of the things that most attracted me to Profile Theatre when I applied for the job of Artistic Director last year is the company’s long-standing commitment to real community engagement. My desire to lead a theater company stems from my belief that, at its best, theater can help us have conversations we might not otherwise have. A theater that was already putting significant human capital and programming resources into community dialogue felt like the right home for me.

One of my biggest priorities as I start my new tenure at the helm of Profile is continuing to broaden the communities we reach and serve, and continuing to deepen the two-way engagement with our city.

At the center of our 2017 Quiara Alegria Hudes season we will present all three plays in Hudes’ “Elliot” Trilogy: Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue, Pulitzer Prize-winner Water By The Spoonful, and The Happiest Song Plays Last. The first follows three generations of a Puerto Rican-American family, all of whom have served in the US Armed Forces – the grandfather in Korea, the Father and mother in Vietnam, and Elliot who serves two tours in Iraq. The two subsequent plays follow Elliot’s re-introduction into civilian life and his struggle to find his place in the world.

What better an opportunity to engage with our own veterans community. There are currently nearly 22 million American combat vets, 2.5 million from the current engagements in the Middle East alone. Profile has created a one-of-a-kind collaboration with the Writers Guild Initiative, the professional trade organization of screenwriters and playwrights, to bring award-winning writers from across the country to Portland. Here they will work with local veterans and their families, mentoring them in a writing practice designed to help them reflect upon and share their experiences through the written word. We’ve also partnered with the American Legion Post 134 in NE Portland, various Veterans Resource Centers at colleges in the area, and the Wounded Warrior Project’s regional base in Seattle to identify local participants in these workshops.

The group gathered in February for two days of intensive writing workshops. They also saw our production of Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue. Throughout the year, we continued to meet one Saturday afternoon a month to create community, share work and continue our practice. Finally, in November, selections of their writing were presented with professional actors and director on Profile’s stage alongside our repertory productions of Water By The Spoonful and The Happiest Song Plays Last.

Our goal is manifold: To use the theater as a site of community-formation. To think of the theater, not just as an institution that can start conversations, but as a place the community goes to have those conversations. But also, to provide a place where various communities can see their own lives reflected back to them on the stage, so that we might know ourselves and each other as necessary parts of this great American tapestry.

If you are interested in learning more about our veterans’ collaborations this year, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line. I hope to see you at the theater.


Donation Drive for Do Good Multnomah

Throughout the run of Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue, Profile is pleased to partner with Do Good Multnomah. Do Good Multnomah is a non-profit organization that provides low-barrier emergency shelter to houseless Veterans in Portland, Oregon. By partnering with the community, we are establishing a model for sheltering and serving houseless Veterans that emphasizes relationship-building, one-on-one engagement, and direct community participation.

When you come to the theatre  to see Elliot, consider bringing a donation to help local houseless veterans.

Needed items include:

  • Blankets
  • Socks
  • Hats & Gloves
  • Hand Warmers
  • Backpacks

Leave items in the donation bin by the box office.

Buy tickets to Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue here.

Learn more about Do Good Multnomah here.



In Her Words: Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue Ten Years Later

Anthony Lam as Elliot in Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue at Profile Theatre 2017. Photo by David Kinder

From Quiara Alegría Hudes, January 2017

It’s over ten years since Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue premiered in New York. It’s almost fourteen years since my real-life cousin Elliot crossed the border north into Iraq from Kuwait. He was among the first marines to enter the conflict, and they were learning as they went. They were the real-life guinea pigs in a very real war. The medical response teams were unsure what the nature of the injuries would be, and therefore had to improvise treatment–there was much trial and error in those early years. One of the surprises was the amount of severe trauma that would be survived. My cousin described the scene in an evac hospital where there was row after row of guys in such extreme pain that the nurses practically threw pain meds at them. My cousin was one of those patients–and a fortunate one. He didn’t have to lose his leg after his severe injury, though many surgeries followed and his physical health remains compromised.

At that time–when he enlisted–it seemed to me that was the beginning. But there’s always a beginning before the beginning. I’ve been reflecting a lot since then on the war before the war. As a child of the 80s I came of age when AIDS was ravaging our Latino community in Philadelphia. Add to that the extreme toll the War on Drugs took on the same community. It left us decimated. Fathers, sons, brothers in jail–sentenced to decades for low-level possession, for the “crime” of addiction. Daughters, mothers, sisters left behind to the scrape up the pieces, to raise sons in this toxic environment where being a Latino was increasingly criminalized.

It seems to me our community’s youngsters fled this domestic war–the War on Drugs–determined not to be a victim of its fallout, determined to “escape” the vicious cycle of addiction, dealing, and criminalization. For many of them, higher education was not financially viable. So they enlisted–the military offered prestigious, respected, paying jobs.

It seems to me a complicated web. Young men of color escaping a domestic war, determined to rise above, and thereby enlisting in a foreign war to go fight abroad. And some of them, when they got hurt, became a new kind of addict–opioids to cure the war wounds.

These generational echoes continue to resonate for me. These echoes are why I wrote Elliot.

Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue
February 2-19, 2017




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