The Davis & Elkins College Department of Fine and Performing Arts will present "A Piece of My Heart," a gripping story of six women stationed in Vietnam, at 8 p.m. Thursday to Oct. 27 and Nov. 1 to 3 in the Boiler House Theatre on the D&E campus.
A special military appreciation reception is set for 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. opening night. This welcome reception is open to all area veterans and their families. It will take place in the D&E Veteran's Lounge located in Halliehurst.
Based on true stories of women who served as nurses, Red Cross "Donut Dollies," entertainers and Women's Army Corps officers during the Vietnam War, "A Piece of My Heart" offers an intimate look inside the hearts and minds of six courageous women. This touching play by Shirley Lauro is produced by special arrangement with Samuel French Inc.
Members of the cast of ‘A Piece of My Heart,’ a drama based on the lives of six women serving in Vietnam, rehearse at the D&E Boiler House Theatre. From left are Sarah Satterwhite, Cassidy Dickens, Ashlen Wilson, Josh McClothlin and Millie Omps.
The women present their personal journeys of innocence lost, ruthless survival and gracious transformation as each one struggles to find her way back to the home she left behind. Spanning a 20-year period, the story takes viewers from the Vietnam War of the 1960s to the moving site of the Vietnam Memorial in the 1980s. As a tale of courage, loyalty, love and loss, "A Piece of My Heart" honors the veterans of Vietnam and reveals the challenges faced by veterans returning from combat both then and now.
April Daras, associate professor of theater and director of "A Piece of My Heart," said this production is a labor of love. She said conflicts over the last 10 years in Iraq and Afghanistan have come close to her life.
"These events affect me through the military commitments of my friends, colleagues, neighbors and students. Elkins, and the state of West Virginia, provide our nation's military with a healthy portion of troops," she said.
"The faculty and students of the D&E theater program felt we had an ideal opportunity to connect in a meaningful way with the surrounding community by doing this play," Daras added. "In the process of researching, preparing and rehearsing, many of us have begun to grasp the barest sense of what it may be like for soldiers, doctors and nurses, medical officers and other military personnel, to return home from conflicts overseas.
"From the safety of our living rooms, the war, the roadside bombs, the wounded are a flickering image on a television screen. We can only imagine what the world feels like to someone living in a battle zone. What we do imagine is that after war, civilian life may never feel the same again," Daras said. "We hope that this production captures a genuine sense of gratitude and respect for the sacrifices made by so many serving in our nation's military forces. We also hope that this play raises greater awareness in the civilian population of the issues and challenges faced daily by active members of the military and veterans returning home."
The D&E cast includes Ashlen Wilson of Elkins as Sissy; Carly Sable of Mount Vernon, Va., as Whitney; Cassidy Dickens of Sutton as Maryjo; Joshua McGlothlin of Council, Va., as Man 3; Millie M. Omps of Slanesville as Martha; Mowunmi Olowofoyeku of Kennesaw, Ga., as Man 2; Owen Peet of Greencastle, Pa., as Man 1; Sarah Satterwhite of Farmington as Leeann; and Victoria Frye of Hickory, N.C., as Steele.
The production crew includes: Andrew Carroll of Bunker Hill, assistant stage manager; Andrew Merritt of Baltimore, Md., scene construction/usher; Alex Binkley of Stafford, Va., props master; Alexandria White of New Castle, Va., costume crew; Ashley Collins of Arthurdale, stage manager; Alyse Prince of Hurricane, publicity/house manager; Bridget Eckhardt of Silver Spring, Md., sound board operator; Dayna Cooper of Parkersburg, assistant stage manager; Jessee Black of Bluefield, light board operator; Katee Conaway of St. Marys, scene/lighting crew; Meri Titus of Ravenswood, makeup assistant; Michael Good of Elkins, props assistant; Morgan Barkley of Hampstead, Md., box office manager; Sam Hacker of Hurricane, costume crew/usher; Sara Davenport of South Amboy, N.J., costume crew; T.J. Myers of Mt. Airy, Md., assistant lighting designer; and Zachary S. Snyder of Hambleton, assistant lighting designer and movement coach.
Technical direction and scenic and lighting design is by Tom Hackman, D&E associate professor of theater, and costume design is by Ruth Humphrey, D&E instructor of theater. Sound design is by D&E senior Eric Armstrong and makeup and hair are by Millie Omps, a D&E junior theater major.
Daras said various members of the community generously provided materials, uniforms and props to make this a very meaningful production. The theater department would especially like to thank the D&E Student Veteran's Association, Debbie Larkin and Veteran's Upward Bound for their support
Tickets are available by calling 304-637-1212 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Because of the mature theme of the production, audience members are cautioned that this play contains strong language and adult situations. Children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.