We have happened upon a special moment in theatre history when Quiara Alegría Hudes's three play cycle is being performed simulatenously in the LA theatre community. The first play in the trilogy takes off into the playwright's real-life cousin's military experience and how it affected and informs his familial relationships. I read the play and was mildly disappointed. But I told myself, "OK. This play was a literary contender for the Pulitzer Prize. Maybe there's something wrong with me. Maybe I just need to see it on stage." These were my sentiments exactly for her next acclaimed piece, Water by the Spoonful, which ended up taking the Pulitzer Prize. Maybe I needed to see these poetic commentaries on our most recent war come to fruition on stage, to truly get it.
Ginny: Reflect honor upon yourself and your home country.
Grandpop: That is how you learn, by repeating over, and over, and over.
Unfortunately I did not have the most transforming experiences watching either of these. I was really hoping some eloquent direction would overcome my static impression of the text. However, a great friend and fellow theatre maker of mine said that Elliot, a Solders Fugue was one of the best shows he had ever seen at CTG! So I think there is some split here of how these plays are being digested.
I feel fortunate to that I don't have anyone in my immediate family involved in the military. While watching this play, I was worried I might not relate to its themes or even understand what was happening, with the "war terminology." However, I connected with Elliot's desire to learn more about his parents by becoming being more like them. I feel like I'm at a place in my life where I can call myself on it, handling a situation like my mom would, coping like my dad would, entertaining like my Mumča would. This play brings light to my trying to understand why my adult family behaves the way they do, through imitating their actions. This could be a scary thing to read in the future, when I have even more learning experiences under my belt. Also, because this play gave me a deeper understanding of what military families go through on a multitude of levels, my level of respect for their service also deepened.
The play reminds me to be extremely greatful for those defending our country: for the violence they face on try battlefield, and the haunting images that may stay with them for a lifetime. The poetic nature and flow of the fugue didn't hit me the way I had hoped, but I can see how it could be very powerful for others coming from different backgrounds. We all have experiences that shape our musicality, and our lives, Elliot, A Soldier's Fugue closes this weekend on Sunday the 25th at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. I apologize again for the tardiness of these pieces, but catch these shows while you can. It will be a while before this trilogy is performed simultaneously in LA again.