A new play at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh explores the devastating effects of war — even far from the front lines.
The UW Oshkosh theatre department will present “My Soldiers,” created by award-winning resident playwright Richard Kalinoski, Nov. 10 to 14 at the Fredric March Theatre, 926 Woodland Ave.
The play, developed by Kalinoski with extensive cooperation from many veterans of the War in Iraq, examines the powerful impact of the war experience on an individual soldier, Angi Busko, a medic who hails from northern Minnesota. “My Soldiers” investigates the obstacles to “normalcy” that she faces when she returns to her home town.
“‘My Soldiers’ came about from a series of interviews I conducted with veterans of the War in Iraq between 2006 and 2007,” Kalinoski said. “As a playwright, I was struck by both the terrible banality of their experience and the frightful pain of it. But mostly I was alerted to how difficult and mysterious and strange life can be upon return to ‘normal’ — life in the United States after combat in a remote and exotic place.
“Coming home is an invitation to alienation and the ache of being absolutely alone,” he said.
“My Soldiers” features a cast of 12, headed by UWO student Joey Kunde, a member of several productions in the Fredric March Theatre, and directed by Merlaine Angwall, an associate professor of theatre at the University.
“One of the things that Kalinoski captures with this play is the sense of isolation and distance people suffering from post-traumatic stress feel,” said Angwall, who directed another of Kalinoski’s plays, “Beast on the Moon,” at the New American Theatre in Rockford, Ill., several years ago.
“‘My Soldiers’ deals with the struggle Angi faces and how she eventually reaches out for help,” Angwall said. “Her journey is the heart of the play. We see what the world is like for Angi, a soldier who has trouble coping with loss and the reality of her world on her return.”
Previously, “My Soldiers” premiered at Eastern University outside of Philadelphia in November 2009 and triumphed in its first professional production at the esteemed Detroit Repertory Theatre in June 2010. A reviewer for the Detroit News wrote, “War is a psychological minefield, an existential condition … suffered by individual souls. That plain truth shapes Richard Kalinoski’s brilliant new play, ‘My Soldiers.’”
The “My Soldiers” project began five years ago when Kalinoski received funds from the Faculty Development Program to fashion a first draft. A faculty team of three designers — Roy Hoglund, Mick Alderson and Kathleen Donnelly — have designed the set, lighting and costumes, respectively.
Tickets for “My Soldiers” can be purchased and/or reserved by calling the box office at (920) 424-4417. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.