LONELY SOLDIER MONOLOGUES (WOMEN AT WAR IN IRAQ)
OFF DUTY NOTES
Soldiers and Actors Meet at "The Lonely Soldier Monologues"
Four of the actors in "The Lonely Soldier Monologues" came face to face with their real-life counterparts in an extraordinary event Saturday, March 14 at Theater for the New City.
The four veterans flew from far and wide to see the play that depicts their time in the military and the war, and to talk to the audience afterwards.
Eli PaintedCrow and Mickiela Montoya, who both served in Iraq with the army, flew in from California.
Marti Ribeiro, who served in Afghanistan as a sergeant with the Air Force, came in from Oklahoma.
Army sergeant Terris Dewalt-Johnson traveled up from Georgia, bringing 23 members of her family to see the play.
And a fifth veteran, Elizabeth O’Herrin of the air force, also came, for although she is not depicted in the play, she is in Helen Benedict’s book, The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq, on which the play is based.
After playing to a packed house, the actors came out into the audience to see their characters turn into live human beings before their eyes. The veterans then took the stage with author Helen Benedict to answer audience questions.
One young girl in the audience raised her hand. “Who plays who?” she asked, so Benedict invited every actor to come up and stand behind the veteran she plays.
Verna Hampton stood behind Terris Dewalt-Johnson. Cara Liander stood behind Marti Ribeiro. Julia Ahumada Grob stood behind Mickiela Montoya. And Kim Weston-Moran stood behind Eli PaintedCrow.
The audience applauded wildly, and everybody present was visibly moved.
Montoya then said she’d found it “weird” to see herself depicted by an actor, but felt the play was accurate and true, and that the actor, Julie Grob, seemed so like her it felt as if they were sisters.
Terris Dewalt-Johnson told the audience that women are mistreated and assaulted al the time in the military, just as the play and book shows -- their authority undermined, their words not listened, their bodies assailed.
And finally, Eli PaintedCrow urged the audience, and anyone who wishes
to help female veterans suffering from military sexual trauma and combat
trauma to go the website of SWAN, Service Women’s Action Network,
to find out how to help and donate. Please visit: www.servicewomen.org