Vietnam theatre reading an experience for young students

Faculty, students and alumni of the UW-Green Bay Theatre program performed a staged reading of “The Tragedy of Achilles In Vietnam” as a featured event at last weekend’s LZ Lambeau. The play by Madison playwright J. Nicholas Schweitzer, based on the book Achilles in Vietnam by Jonathan Shay, addresses the challenges faced by returning vets. Theatre Prof. Laura Riddle says the performance played to a capacity audience of approximately 120, including numerous veterans. “It was an incredibly moving experience,” Riddle said. “Throughout the play there were laughs and shouts of recognition as well as tears.” In discussion afterward, numerous vets shared memories, praised the accuracy of the drama being told and commented that they, too, had experienced the lack of time for mourning lost brothers, or encounters with well-meaning friends and family who were unable to relate to what the veterans went through.

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Riddle says young actors in the cast said they learned more about the Vietnam experience from working on this play than they had by reading history books in school. Long after the discussion was over, veterans and students mingled, discussing the lengthy healing process, taking photos together and thanking each other for the shared experience. Actors in the play reading included Theatre faculty members R. Michael Ingraham and John Mariano, Theatre students Zach McLain, Alison Tyler, Derek Sklenar, Derek Knabenbauer, Jason Szmanda, Ross Christian, Josh Weishaar, and Theatre program alumni Curt Christnot, Dena Holtz and Kristal Pelkey. Projections were designed by Theatre student Amy Kooiman.

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