The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh theatre department will present “Censored on Final Approach,” a play that brings to light the contributions of the Women’s Air Service Pilots (WASPs) in World War II, at Fredric March Theatre, Sept. 29-Oct. 3.
Director Jane Purse-Wiedenhoeft had been working with students to bring the play to UW Oshkosh since she and her students saw the show last January; they knew they wanted to tell this story.
“The play honors the WASPs in World War II and honors their memory,” Purse-Wiedenhoeft said. “But it is also illustrating all of the frustrations they had as women who were only allowed to be in the military as civilians.”
The WASPs joined military efforts to relieve men from training duties so they could enter combat, Purse-Wiedenhoeft said. One new role the women took on was training military troops to shoot at moving target.
“Censored on Final Approach” will show the activities the WASPs took part in and the censorship around their involvement. Purse-Wiedenhoeft said there were 1,074 WASPs, and 38 of them had died during their participation. Documents about their deaths were concealed because the government didn’t want people to know women had died for the war.
The production also illustrates some of the women’s frustrations about not being accepted as equals and not being treated fairly. For instance, the women used old planes so the ones in best condition could be used in combat. Then, when something malfunctioned in the plane, it was documented as a pilot error.
“The reports kept saying pilot error when, really, the canopy of the cockpit was faulty and wouldn’t open, so the pilot died in a fire because she couldn’t get out,” Purse-Wiedenhoeft said.
Playwright Phylis Ravel said women had been serving the country unnoticed until recently and that the play is her way to recognize their efforts.
“It is important for the women of past generations to be honored for their service to their country,” Ravel said. “This play salutes these brave, young women.”
The play will run Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and on Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Fredric March Theatre, 926 Woodland Ave. Tickets cost $13 for the general public, $10 for senior citizens and alumni, and $4 for UWO students with ID.
- To order tickets, call 424-4417 or visit www.uwosh.edu/theatre.