Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Day 19 of the Tour: 9-27

Rincon High School / University High School, in their Little Theater

150 students from Drama, AP History and English.

Here is what some of them said:

"The more intimate images running through my mind were of sorrow and compassion. Every one has a different story, and they were all brought out individually."

"It was devastating. . . captivating."

"The women who dealt with the dead bodies. . . heart wrenching, and the reality of it all really hit hard. Thinking of all those who have died during war, it really brought it to a level of understanding and shock."

"It is cool to hear about the war from a women soldier's point of view. You don't really hear a lot about women in the army."

"It made me think of the other side of war other than the glorification. I think it is wrong how women are still treated."

"I feel like women don't belong in the situations they are presented with, and that they are underappreciated and are misused."

"The play made me think about the fact that we don't always question why we go to war. The US military is always glorified and we never hear anything bad about what goes on."

"I feel saddened, shocked, devastated, proud of this country's willingness to fight for honor and even sometimes pride."

"This had major meaning to me. It felt so real: I felt the pain, sadness, fear, strength. I felt as if it were me that she was talking about. I feel it is easier to be a man than a woman. This [play] opened my mind to lots of things and I don't know exactly what it opened. . . It brought tears to my eyes but I held [back] just to stand tall so we can stand up to a man. I'm pretty much speechless but in a good way."

"I never realized how painful or how depressing the outcome after a war or service [would be] until now. I felt chills just hearing these stories. . . I just wish there is another way to look for peace."

"I feel a bit inconsiderate of all things many women have really suffered. It angers me to know of women at war yet they were never mentioned, or perhaps it was me that never really thought of them. It makes me proud of all the women who sacrificed and how bravely they reacted, and how they remain standing. . . just. . . wowwwww."

"I feel women in the military are truly brave and heroic. This play was deeply moving and inspiring, but also extremely sad."

"I hate the war. I hate all war. I hate the fact that we are terrorizing people that are innocent and that we are killing Americans for no real reason. I will never join the military."

"The military offers opportunity. An opportunity to experience friendship and responsibility. It presents opportunity to love and hate. To live or die. There is no man or woman in the Army, just a soldier protecting the freedom of their country."

"I feel everyone must experience the war differently."

"Women in the military have to deal with tons of hypocracy."

"I have kept in my mind joining the air force as my plan B, but in all honesty, I'm sorta scared now. I'm extremely grateful for the sacrifices made."

"I feel overwhelmed. There was a lot of information given that I had no idea about. . . I have much respect for women in the military."

"[This] made me see inside the world of women in war. . . the things that women have to do to survive."

"I couldn't relate to any of it. I'm not a woman. I have no interest in the military. But it did give me goose bumps."

"I feel informed, astonished. I have a new perspective on women in the military. Moved, surprised."

"I personally want to go to the military and seeing this play really opened my eyes and made me think about things."

"It allowed me to realize further how much I despise the war and want to push for peace and respect for women."

"I think this was meant more to scare us out of the military than anything else. The military or the stories were bad and about rape, death, etc. The few good stories were made to look stupid and misguided."

"This performance evoked emotions I thought were buried. The stories are authentic, powerful, and accurate. This performance reminded me that all is fair and nothing is immoral or illegal when war fills the air. I feel that human nature is more powerful than moral reasoning."

"I feel offended by the play but in a good way. I see the military and women in the military in a new light. It portrayed so many things that I would rather have just not thought about."

"I feel that the performance was made for people to realize that sacrifices people make in war. The stories of the bodies made what war really is very clear."

"This really destroyed something inside me. I want to scream. I want to take action. I want to suffer. I fell numb inside. . . thank you for showing me this important, painful truth."

"I thought the military was good to all its soldiers. It was strange to see the bad side of it."

"The way I feel about all this war since 9/11 is that there are many casualties."

"I think that war and the military is not only overrated but it's also unnecessary. In the name of peace and freedom, we sacrifice so much that neither of those causes seem worthy. I condemn it all. Plus the military bans homosexuals and allows so much pain and hurt to live under their roof. I hold so much animosity towards it all that I can't even express myself."

"I am more aware of the sexism issue. I have family, particularly women, in the air force and I hope no one ever goes through, or has gone through, this."

"I feel everyone should be aware of what women soldiers go through."

Monday, September 27, 2010

Day 18 of the Tour : Benefit dinner & closing performance

The benefit dinner performance was at Peach Properties on 6th Ave and 7th St, 6pm---The Old Eric Firestone Gallery. Wow, what a fantastic evening: the conversation went into the night and felt particularly free, real and relaxed. Maybe it was sharing food, the intimate crowd, the space, the final performance? a relaxed yet rigorous conversation, appreciating and telling stories and asking questions. There were poets, feminists, Air Force and Army, a historian, a lawyer, educators, musicians, artists, writers, publishers, students, Women's Commissioners, a realtor, a surgeon, activists. . . making connections through this play. Caitlin talked about how Powder circulated around her base in Afghanistan and how female soldiers have been inspired by Christy Clothier's story of how she outsmarted the S.E.A.L. who tried to rape her; Kathleen said there should be as many genders as there are people in the world (so, 6.5 billion) and recommended the movie "Stop Loss"; Jeanmarie made an impassioned plea for helping Kore (we need it!) and spreading the word, generating support to keep this amazing, relevant and important project growing and moving forward.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Day 16 of the Tour: 9-24

The University of Arizona Poetry Center, 6:30pm. The final public performance and post-show discussion of the tour.
Approximately 60 people in attendance (including four scholars---Adela C Licona, Sheila Tobias, Laura Gronewold, Kathleen Williamson---and Dr Anita Fonte, who was observing/analyzing the civil dialogue process.) Also in attendance were several female veterans and service members, including Kim Shroyer and Jamie Jansen (who have been traveling with us to high schools talking to the kids), and Kara Smith (who has signed up to be on a submarine).

Conversation came from those who have directly lived some of the deeply difficult experiences presented in the play as well as from those who have spent their professional lives analyzing, studying and working with the complex forces surrounding women, military, war, and the language we use to talk about those things. The "pride of service" vs the question of "America as a colonizing power", the "dehumanization" that is required by both sides to point and shoot vs the "invisibility of a war" that many people have the luxury of not thinking/talking about, "choosing" to join vs those who are rendered choiceless by poverty, the notion that everyone "in the military is the same/is a man" vs the high incidence of violence against women in the military and the intolerance of gays, the work of early feminists to get women into combat roles (which would help get them into positions of political power) vs the high number of returning soldiers disabled with PTSD, an audience member needing to meditate during the performance to maintain her equanimity vs the high stress levels that soldiers may carry into inherently stressful environments, responses from the gut and the heart vs responses from the intellect.

As Sheila Tobias said, we are not used to parsing mosaics. I think last night was an indication of that, but we attempted to do it anyway. .

Here is what some of those audience members had to say:

"33 years and experiences are still vivid in my mind's eye and depth of my heart and soul."

"This was multidimensional and inspiring."

"Powerful stories."

"I have some small idea of my daughter's experiences through the emotion of the performance (my daughter doesn't talk a lot to me about them). I am so proud of her."

"One of the most powerful and thought provoking pieces I have ever experienced."

"I came away with a strong sense of how everyone in war is human, and that humanity cannot be put on hold or ignored without consequence."

"I think this is a very powerful piece for those of us who live in such a privileged community that we are little-touched by the reality of our coutnry's military actions and engagements."

"Unlike anything I've seen. I appreciate the depth of honesty these women shared about what it's like to be a woman in the military."

"There were things said that I had not even thought of as a young private (female). I began my military career with an integrated army. I still feel the need however to be stronger than the males just to prove it can be done, probably due to my female Drill Sergeant's grinding it into my head."

"Would like to see this performance hit the Fleet. . . . [it] brings unspoken thoughts to words."

"Tonight's performance had a profound impact on me. . . when human qualities are stripped away, who decides which qualities go away?"

"Please keep presenting this."

"I am floored by the presentation. I am honored to have the opportunity to see it a second time and catch things that I had missed."

"Thank you so much for bringing this topic to the attention of so many people who may not fully understand the true roles and feelings of women in the military."

"while there was certainly a vast and powerful range of emotions, i was surprised with the lack of DESIRE (not "love" or "heartbreaks" or yearning) conveyed across the pieces--or even mentioned by the audience. not to minimize
the alarming statistics of rape and sexual assault in the arm forces, but given the prime age of soldiers (both women and men) and external stresses, it would not be surprising that the armed forces would be a ripe context for a great
deal of DESIRE (and not just from men). i don't know if serving in a compulsory situation (israel) made a difference... or perhaps growing up in a country where young girls did not need to get drunk and pass out to "allow themselves" to have
sex with whomever they wished... but for me and for many other women soldiers, at the time, consensual DESIRE (not sexual assault) was an important and empowering component of the military experience--to be remembered with no
guilt, shame or regrets. given the marriages and unions (gay/straight) forged during service in the U.S, i'd imagine that DESIRE is not unique to any particular army (integrated or not).

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Day 13 of the Tour: 9-21, in the afternoon

City High School, downtown Tucson: 75 students and several veterans in the audience (Kim, Jamie, and teacher Tom Moore's mom who was a nurse in Viet Nam). Jeanmarie breaks down when she catches the eye of Tom's mom during the piece in the play written from the point of view of a Viet Nam nurse. . .and again during a reference to a Viet Nam era marching song (gruesome lyrics). Later she says it was one of those performances that was definitely not phoned in (meaning, it wasn't going to get any more real than that).

Here is what some of those students said:

"I feel like I never want to serve. I feel like I need to get up right now and go. I feel like smacking him in the face and shooting down his morale. I feel like hugging him silently, and crying into his hand. I feel like going with him, so I can be there and do it with him. The pain is the same for women, and I want to feel it."

"The world is hurting."

"You should have more pro military stories. I know multiple soldiers who are women and they're experiences were much different. I heard some stories from the Gulf War and a lot has changed since then."

"I feel so heart broken that even living in the 21st century that women do not get the respect they deserve even with bravery, desperately fighting for their country. I actually cried. I never cry. Incredible. Truly incredible."

"I feel extremely overwhelmed because no woman should have to experience such pain. . ."

"I thought comrades were supposed to help you not harm you."

"I feel amazed at how much sexism there is among people who are supposed to be the heroes of our country."

"I believe people are getting smarter and more open and loving as time goes on. Even though it would be so amazing to be so capable and strong, it's a better feeling to not even need strength to fight."

"I was so ignorant about what people at war go through. The most I experience is in video games where nothing so intense happens."

"I can't get how people go about their business during the day let alone sleep at night knowing that people are being tortured, dying, starving and yet. . . we don't even bother to lift a finger."

"I feel sad and confused about the truth of what happens to women in the army. No one should be treated like that."

"I feel ashamed, outraged and disgraced at being male. . . my eyes are now open to the problems."

Day 13 of the Tour: 9-21, in the morning

This was the fourth of Dave Sudak's classes at CFHS, Tucson. This one was the smallest (15 students) class and very quiet and attentive for 8:30am!

Here is what some of them had to say:

"I feel like if more women like the ones in the play speak out, the more the military will need to and be forced to acknowledge that something needs to be done to help women not only succeed in the military, but also to thrive in it."

"I feel concerned. These experiences are horrific yet inspiring."

"Every single one of us has a job, and that's to fight (figuratively or literally) for others. I don't understand how women in the military can go through so much, just for us."

"Now that more and more women are joining the military, there is a whole new perspective that people do not understand and this is an incredibly real way to show what it's really like. . . Incredibly real and incredibly depressing."

"I feel angry and sad that war happens. Why? It seems so fruitless to me. The soldiers are the ones fighting it, but all it really is is the bickering of a few men in high places who send out their soldiers to solve their problems. I keep thinking of the Iraqi people, for so long now their world has been an image of constant fear and suffering and it is so unfair for them. And for me that I live such a good life."

"I feel angry. I want to be an officer, a gentleman, and the rape stuff pisses me off. Makes it seem like all people in the military are the bad guys. But, they are not. They serve and I truly believe that honestly women should not join. . . There really are honorable servicemen. I am compelled at their devotion. Men do combat, women don't. why? Women have the right to serve. There needs to be stricter policies on rape. I will NOT ALLOW it. I'll be a great officer. The best. The one who looks out for women."

"I feel as though my life has been altered, my eyes have been opened to the reality. The fact that there is a great big world out there. . . I feel as if I'm trapped in a bubble. . .."

"I feel lost. Never knowing the experiences of others. I am ignorant, trapped in a world of good and safety.. . What is it to feel bad about something that I have little control over, like war, and death?"

"I remember my feelings when my dad was deployed to Iraq. I remember how angry I was at everyone. I wanted to know that my dad was ok. I want to know what he actually felt when he was there. He doesn't talk about it. I want to know why he went to Iraq."

"It's difficult to resolve an issue with as much depth as women in the military, or war itself. Is it wrong to subject women to something as gruesome as. . . war and harassment? Can we prevent them from serving to protect them? Can we prevent war all together?"

Here is a paraphrased summary of general feedback from Dave's classes the day after our visit. . .

"Students were very open about the challenge of the small performance space. Many students-including doodlers and those who seemed like they weren't giving the performers their undivided attention--admitted to feeling shy, especially about watching the performer in such close proximity. . . A few (mainly boys) expressed feeling that men got an especially bad treatment, and that the play could have balanced the harsh reality of violence toward women with some more positive experiences."

Day 12 of the Tour: 9-20

Today we performed for three different sections of Dave Sudak's AP English class at Catalina Foothills High School---three in a row. Approximately 24 students per section, and again we were in close quarters with no barrier between the stage and the audience. When asked the question how many students have thought about or are planning to go to the military, one young man raised his hand.

Dave Sudak said of the experience: "Thank you, Kore Press and performers, for sharing *Coming in Hot* with our AP Lit classes.  I can’t think of a better complement to our unit on literary impressionism (and more specifically Heart of Darkness). Emphasizing the conveyance of experience, with a fidelity to what the military feels like to its many female voices, the play took a needing demographic of students on a rich, sensory journey.  Each performance – four total in a small fluorescent classroom - was an experience in itself, as individual classes were confronted by (and responded differently to) the raw, sobering material. We all - including the performers - seemed united in our vulnerability.  No protective fourth wall.  No place to hide.   It was an experience unlike any I’ve had (or am likely to have) in the classroom, and one I’m tremendously grateful for."

Here is what his students had to say:

"The realization of how the military effects the minds of soldiers is terrifying."

"I don't support war, I don't know who would, but I really respect those strangers who live to die. Isn't that a cornerstone of the military, of war, in general? Death?"

"I feel cold. Running through the entire performance was death. Death---the coldest place."

"I not only felt sorry for the soldier's struggles, but their families at home, and the innocent civilians affected by war."

"I could smell, hear, and feel everything that they felt. My mind is racing. How could someone go through that? How could someone be in that situation?"

"I feel. . . a sense of awe and humility."

"I also feel quite sure I will never be in the military."

"I feel at a loss to put my impressions into words after the flood of tonality and mood, this flood of the senses, this flood of experiences so divorced from my own."

"I feel confused as if I am not able to be the person needed for my country, where there is life free and bold. I cannot rise to the occasion of becoming one who protects others. Where do we find this strength, this liberty? How do we understand the unknown? Where do I fit in?. . ."

"I feel like the military is another world. People that have been there come back different. I feel like it should be easier than it seems, after all you really just shoot and kill."

"I feel happy that I live in a world apart from all the horrible experiences re-enacted today. It's so easy to just not think about what I saw today, go home, and watch TV and do homework. In fact, that is what I will probably do because honestly, I just want to be happy and ignorant when I'm not in school."

"I feel proud to be in a gender that is constantly fighting to prove ourselves worthy."

"I feel shocked, tired. . . but attentive, sad and confused. . . disgusted, peaceful, yet upset and almost sick. . ."

"I feel a sort of awareness. . . I felt like I was one of those women and can see what they were seeing."

"I feel like I would like to serve my country but I couldn't do it. I feel like the government covers up the truth. I feel like most war isn't necessary."

"I feel incredibly lucky in the most absurd way. . .it seems completely wrong that I should be so lucky when so many more, the majority of the world is less lucky than me. Why do I get to be comfortable? Why do I have family and friends that love me? Why don't I ever have to pay some kind of steep price for all my good fortune? maybe it will come eventually. I am so selfish for wishing I won't have to."

"After watching *Coming in Hot* my perspective on the US military in general is that it has betrayed the idea/reputation of the American people---women soldiers have a far more difficult road than men and the way they are treated is horrible. Changes must be made / voices must be heard. Before we change the world, we need to change ourselves."

"Why would anyone want to be in the military anyway? It is so dangerous and scary. I admire the women who have that sort of courage. It's weird to pity the women you admire."

"i feel empowered that women who choose can help support our country and protect us."

"The most shocking message I got from the play was that of sexual harassment in the military. Here, servicemen are portrayed as being honorable and something to aspire to, but when they are pulled away from society they are reduced to basic instincts. i also think that the military doesn't share this information with the public."

Day 11 of the Tour: 9-19

Linda Green, anthropology professor at the University of Arizona, hosted this salon fund raiser in her beautiful desert back yard with a ramada strung with colored lights for a stage and picnic tables covered in oil clothes. It was a hot Sunday night outdoors, and we could have used amplification (some loud planes overhead) but the conversation afterward was lively. We had very few written comments and no scribe that evening to record the live dialogue. There were about 25 people there.

Here is some of what was said:

"Glad you brought these voices forward. Really found the piece about the pow wow---the inability to speak---very significant! It really brought us back to the silenced voices of women! "Coming in Hot" clearly opens the space rather than claiming triumph. Thank you for that honesty."

I am paraphrasing the below from memory:

One audience member was struck by just how much of a sense of the individual, and independence, came through in all the pieces. A loneliness under harsh conditions rather than a connection to others? This is particularly American.

Another audience member stated how conflicted she felt about her response to the play: being proud of the strength and courage depicted by the women warriors and at the same time being aware of how deeply anti-war she is.

Someone else raised a question about the status of women in the Israeli army, guessing that they do not experience the same levels of harassment and abuse that women soldiers in the US military do. He also wondered what women vets face when they return, what kind of community do they form or can they look to be received back into? As a Native American, he noted that the Pow wow is a place for warriors to return to and find a home in.

Day 10 of the Tour: 9-18

House party/fundraising salon hosted by Shannon Cain in her downtown Tucson, 7th floor apartment. Twenty-five people squeezed into the living room, sat on couches, the floor, chairs, pillows and a trunk by the food table in the back. Not a dry eye in the house that evening. Small quarters make for more intense performances. . . in the classroom setting as well as in a private living space. There's no escaping the performer's eye when you are just feet away.

Here is what some of those guests had to say:

"I feel grateful to the artists for giving me a meaningful way to engage with the overwhelming reality of what is occurring in the world--the cost of what my country is doing. I have not found other meaningful ways of engaging. I find most of the ways these issues are presented and discussed to be inhumane, alienating and even more painful."

"[I am] thunderstruck by the experiences these women had. Never, ever in my life have I heard firsthand tellings of what it is like to be a woman in the military. I feel somewhat heartbroken by what they witnessed."

"I am moved because this performance gives me such a visceral, immediate connection to women whose lives may at first seem so different than mine. The words spoken here make me know these women are not different from me. They are my sisters."

"It was easy to visualize women in war---the conflicts, the intensity, the never-ending injustices--danger from within our military. I feel loss of life, permanent scaring--damaged souls. . . perhaps the lucky ones are the dead."

"I feel the women in the military desperately trying to make sense of something that makes no sense. There is poignancy in trying on the various cliches of war---when in the end it breaks down to horror and pointless violence."

"I feel like I've overlooked and not honored my own military upbringing. Yes, Air Force brat was such a badge of pride, but the late 60s and 70s buried that and I buried that and all the families that I knew who lost---literally "lost": MIA. Dads, husbands. Thank you for bringing those memories to the surface."

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Day 9 of the Tour: 9-17

Hamilton High School, Chandler, AZ. 9:30am. A class of 25 advanced drama students, sophomores to seniors. They were rapt from the first line: ". . . so, this is death." Everyone in the room knew someone or had family in the military. Of those, three knew women who had been in.

Here is what those students had to say:

"I've truly never seen or read anything like this."

". . . another silent story now made known."

"These women go through hell and back more times than the male soldiers do."

"I feel shocked and ashamed of myself. I have never really thought twice about women in the military, let alone what they might be going through. . . this performance has reminded me of the things that go on outside of my little bubble of a world."

"Wow, that was really powerful. . . I never wanted it to end."

"This play touched my heart and helped me understand more of what it was like for the women so next time I meet one I will truly thank her for putting up with all that crap and yet still serving our country."

"I saw and felt all the women's stories. . . as a result I want to talk to anyone in my family who was in the military to see and understand any of their stories."

"I feel like I want to do something more. I know I am a very strong girl and now I feel like I am wasting it. . . I am so impressed by how strong women can be. I am glad this is being performed for people."

"I have never felt this way. I feel captivated and touched. . . taken all throughout the horrid experiences a woman has to endure so she can help serve her country. As a man, I feel guilty to have to share the title of "man," for what man has done."

Friday, September 17, 2010

Day 8 of the Tour: 9-15

University of Arizona Veterans in Higher Education conference, Gallagher Theater. POWERFUL performance with an audience who has been there: a crowd of 40 vets, male and female, and those who work with them. It was difficult to speak afterwards, and several people left before the discussion began, but the strong sentiments and deep emotions began to surface as the people began to talk.

Clearly, according to this audience, something needs to be done. . . and the play seems to open a door, for women vets in particular, whose stories have gone unheard for too long .

Here is what some audience members said:

". . . these women are brave because they willfully joined the boy's club, willfully entered the smoking parlor where they knew they would face closed doors at best, violation at worst."

"What a difficult reality. Already as a woman I feel confined on so many levels---and to put myself in a situation where I give up what freedom of expression of self I have is unimaginable. All to ensure that the rest are free to do/live in this "free" society."

"Overwhelm, painful, beautiful, sadness, honor, weakness, strength. I think of my daughter. When do men become true men? it is measured in battle or measured in how they interact with women. . . or both?"

"I believe this [play] would be a great program to not only spread to civilian women, but to try to assemble active duty women from all ranks and all forces. As an active duty female, I believe young sailors/soldiers/marines would benefit from exploring this side of combat, both male and female."

"Profound feelings. It took me back like I was there again. Not in a good way. I hated it. I loved it. Well done."

"This experience helped open my eyes to the thoughts, feelings, stories that accompany the statistics I know. I am thankful for the performance and appreciate all that went into making it happen. I will be a stronger advicate and supporter to the women veterans that I will have the privilege to serve."

"This was some pretty powerful stuff. We have had a deaf ear to women's issues for way too long and still do not want to face the realities. This play is a wonderful means of awareness that just opens the doors slightly . . . and we need to bust it completely open."

"Too dark. Too sad. No one spoke about patriotism? Courage? Satisfaction?"

"[Women] have had to not only fear the enemy but also their warrior brothers."

"It saddens and disgusts me that these women were treated this way, but even as a child of the military I know these things existed. I personally know of a woman who is determined to be a grey beret who has encountered harassment and who feels she needs to be more "man-like."

Day 7 of the Tour: 9-14

During our second day of three performances at Tucson High School actor Jeanmarie Simpson went home sick after the first class (she's fine now). Art Almquist, the drama teacher, recruited two of his advanced students (Andrea and Drea) who were totally game for doing a cold reading of excerpts of the play with Kore Manager Colleen and myself. We quickly realized, as 100 students started to fill in the seats of the theater, that "no play" was not an option. I pulled 10 or so monologues out and we distributed them among the four of us to read . . as Jeanmarie told the class of drama students at Marana HS last week, you say "YES. . . AND/ YES. . . AND when you improvise." And so went the next two performances.

Students really dialed into what was coming out of their peers' mouths. The after discussion was intense, vibrant and very clearly focused on gender differences.

Here is what some of those student had to say that day:

"I feel disturbed, sad, anxious, proud, pity, disgust, humiliation, inquisitiveness, melancholy, misinformed, enlightened, congested, weak. I didn't like how the mother and chose to go at the same time as her husband. Taking both parents away from a 4 yr old is gross, sickening."

"I remember thinking [during the play] this is not the civilized world."

"At what point do you fight, at what point do you let things go? When do you just give up and excuse the world? it is difficult to say."

". . . war is forever awful. I find it hard to support or take pride in. I will never go and will not let my brother go. Men are scum and I will not let them look down on me because I am a woman. I will not let it happen."

"The stuff that happens in the military shouldn't be endured by anyone."

". . . this just really touched home for me where I am in a low brass section in band---that is a male-oriented area. You either fit in or you don't."

"I feel the weight of many years of history--the stories of men and women whose lives are forgotten but whose struggles mirror my own. . . [this is] a war memorial more meaningful than a statue or a wreath. War/anti-war; knowledge/awareness; compassion/grief."

"I got chills like 20 times because how tense the situation was. I feel disappointed on how some men still look down on women."

"This has got to be one of the hardest things I have ever listened to. Women don't deserve to be treated this way, especially by men they are working with."

"I feel kinda sad like something has gone missing."

"I had no idea these kinds of things were going on to women in the military. It's awful that because someone is a different gender, you treat them so differently."

"I feel surprised. Why? Because I didn't think there were people who still do raping, harassing. . . Why? Because men should already know how [to show] respect."

"It just amazes me how many women in the military are sexually assaulted and they just don't say anything in the news or anything. I wouldn't want to fight for a country that just brushes off my concerns or grievances. It's our first amendment. We have the right to petition our government for our grievances."

". . . all of the harassment and abuse needs to stop. My dad fought in Vietnam so I've never gotten to hear anything about the army from the opinion of anyone other than a man."

"I feel that peace, even the idea of peace, has been lost over time, and that it would take a sudden realization that this is wrong to help bring it back. But why has it been lost??"

"I feel devastated and uplifted and enlightened."

"I can't see why people would want to go to war just to fill the gas tanks of American cars. . . War is a human invention: terrible and destructive like our pollution. I breaks a person."

"I plan on joining the military or Coast Guard after high school. To hear how many women in the military go through so much makes me want to be part of something bigger than myself."

"This topic needs to be put out in the world more. Women should be able to express themselves no matter what."

"It's like women are taken advantage of because they aren't physically strong enough to fight back. It's like they want to toughen these women up. I don't really understand why this happens. I just hope it stops."

"I feel that females are looked down upon and disrespected, but will rise."

". . . despite all the threats and discrimination, they proved that as a woman you can pursue what others say is impossible."

"What about our women's rights?"

"I feel the hurt and suffering my fellow women go through."

"Without women this world would not have any humans."

"We don't know HALF of the things that go on. The girl was constipated for two week and the enema didn't work: JESUS!"

"The Israeli army will be a different experience by far, as a family and community. I think because it is more expected that women will join. I will not get raped or harassed, like these women did."

"I feel shame that someone in the army can become a victim."

"If men can do it, why can't women?"

"I wasn't aware of how women were treated [in the military]. . . it makes me want to change things so that women are treated equally when they go into war."

"Why in the hell do [men] think that's ok to do [rape a women in the army]?"

". . this performance was very raw and didn't hold back on what needed to be said."

". . . it is extremely obscene and disgusting that our government would cover up the misdeeds of military men against military women."

"I would be pissed if people around me, people I needed to trust with my life, tried to rape me."

"I wouldn't join the military, but if a woman feels that God wants her to join, she should be able to without fearing the male soldiers and what they might do."

Monday, September 13, 2010

Day 6 of the Tour: 9-13

Tucson High School:
We performed for three classes today, two in the morning, and one after lunch. We had two hours with the first class, which was luxurious--enough time to do the full performance and settle into an open dialogue afterwards. The kids responded. The other two classes were short, 84 minutes with role call and introductions. We ran an abbreviated version of the play to have time for 15-20 minutes of talking afterwards. Not quite enough time to experience the full range of characters and open conversation, but time enough to have an impact and an exchange.

Veterans Kim and Jamie joined us for the day, and co-adaptor Shannon Cain came for the last period.

Here is what some of the Tucson High School students had to say:

"This play made me feel the sorrow and anger felt by the women soldiers."

"I feel really frightened by this play. When I first walked through these doors I was interested, maybe inspired, to join the military, now I'm afraid."

"I can feel each pain and struggle these women have been through! I felt as if i was there when I heard each story. I have a brand new respect for military women and it has opened my eyes about wanting to go to Westpoint after high school."

"I feel sad not only because my mother is in the army and I wish she could be here with me, but because its not easy to be a woman soldier. It motivates me to want to be in the military even more. I feel grateful for our women who serve in the military."

"I would not want to join the army ever."

"I feel strong-hearted because I feel I was there and experiencing everything. Now that I have seen this [play], I now know what my sister has experienced."

"This play opened my eyes to an issue that I had never really thought about."

"The talk about rape horrified me."

"Why do they treat women so horrible in the military? Nothing like that movie "GI Jane."

"It reminds me of the Holocaust."

"After hearing all those stories, you don't exactly know how to feel. You are sorry for the girls, but at the same time somewhat mad at the Army, Navy, etc, for putting such harsh loads on them. Though the play gave you a good feeling of what girls and others go through in situations like this, I personally don't know if I should thank these people for what they do for us or be mad at them because of either what they do to others or to themselves."

"I feel honored to have such brave women in the military. All the things that they go through surprised me since no one has ever talked to me about this."

"I think women need more rights!"

"I feel a deep power from within, hearing a tale of . . . women in the army. It takes away the simplistic views I had about the army and threw them in the trash. I see that the army is fear, it is sadness, it is loneliness. The army, especially for a women, is a complex world."

"I feel that women always have to try twice as hard as men to get the same recognition. Even though it frustrates me, I feel our strife betters us."

"They [the military] only thinks of women as an object and a little slave they can use and just do whatever they want with."

"I feel inadequate. I feel small."

"I feel that women always have to try twice as hard as men to get the same recognition."

"Women in the military go through one shit storm after another!"

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Day 4 of the Tour: 9-11

PCC Center for the Arts Recital Hall, 9/11

Film crew in attendance tonight. Moment of silence for the victims of 9/11.

audience responses:

"The whole thing feels like one big mysogynist conspiracy: women are killed, raped, or humiliated, or their daughters are killed and raped or humiliated, or their sons are killed and humiliated. To what degree are we all bound up in some contractual arrangement by virtue of being American?"

"I feel silent inside and deep stillness. Appreciation arises for my life and my choices."

"I feel overwhelmed because all these women and their stories are in this room. I feel honored to be a woman because our courage and strength are so deep."

"The acting and music were wonderfully blended. War is awful!"

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Day 3 of the Tour: 9-10

AT Pima Community College Recital Hall, eight audience members joined us for our dress rehearsal and intimate dialog afterwards. We sat in a circle to see one another's faces, opening with a free write to get all the feelings and emotions down right after the performance ended.

Some responses from the audience:

"It amazed me what they [women soldiers] go through. One thing I never thought about is leaving young children behind. Now I can't stop thinking about how hard it must be."

"I feel very sad that little attention has been given to these voices—of military women. . .this performance is so necessary—to be heard—just to listen."

"Coming in Hot is doing the work of truth."

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Day 1 of the Tour: 9/8/10

The Marana High School intermediate drama class developed an improvised piece on war with Jeanmarie. Students spoke a phrase they chose while moving across the stage enacting a gesture they developed to go with the phrase. . . making a multi-vocal, multi-faceted piece on "war."

There were 30 students who watched the performance. They were mostly fine arts and theater students who chose to attend.

Student responses to the play:
"I feel like I understand more about what it's like to be in the military. . . it helps to really feel the stories and to hear the voices of the military women."

"I'm pissed about the sexual stuff."

"I feel empowered and broken, many emotions can run through me, and still I feel proud unlike any feeling. Women are strong. The story hit my heart."

Please join us here. Leave your comments about the play and your further thoughts on the conversations we have begun together.