Monday, October 25, 2010


Stage One Theatre
North Seattle Community College

October 15&16 7:30 PM

60 people, at least 75% women. A few male vets. A group of women’s studies students from the school. Friends, family and their friends.

On the 15th, Cindy Domingo (Filipino-American), a WILPF member, was there and spoke to the cut-backs in funding for the poor – how especially for African-American and Latino men the military is becoming the only option for getting out of poverty and having a chance at getting an education, and it is becoming an increasingly attractive option for young women, especially those from non-white populations.

On the 16th, Donna Dean, one of our Powder authors and contributor to the play, was present. She spoke to questions about her history and her PTSD, the way her life has evolved as a result of being a woman in the US military. Jeanmarie was asked about my response to those in the peace community who disapprove of the positive content in the play. She said that, as a peace activist, she believes it is necessary for her net of compassion to evolve and grow and that she needs to hear and consider all voices. Donna Dean clarified the fact that she and other Powder authors are not pacifists or peace activists. She thanked Jeanmarie and Kore for the outreach to them, for revealing their stories and making their voices heard.

Here is what some of the Seattle audience had to say:

"I was at a conference today and listened to a young man with PTSD which began in Marine boot camp and continued with his deployment in Iraq. The echoes are remarkable."

"I appreciate the diversity of experiences reflected/conveyed here, the depth of emotion and reality. Outstanding performance. Truly riveting. Great soundscore. Writing is wonderful."

"Such powerful words and stories and delivery on your part. The economic disparities are so disturbing."

"It felt a little long, but it also seemed not long enough. I was so touched."

"Strong, rich range of voices here. Each one comes through cleanly, directly. It’s a lovely gift you give these women and us – this “channeling” of their needs, fears, passions, losses."

"It was powerful and moving. I loved the range of women represented. I think that because it was performed by one person, it was easier for me to listen and like all the women more equally. VERY glad that my professor recommended it!"

"A very powerful piece that covers the full spectrum of the war experience."

"I really enjoyed the many, diverse voice of women in the military. Perhaps from inside it is hard to critique the military, but I would like to have heard more dissent – perhaps just because I’d like to believe there is more that these women don’t agree with."

"Finally, a play/story from a woman’s point of view. Powerful! Moving!"

"Impressive one-person work. Haunting."

"I was surprised by the statistics of women veterans in regards to abuse. That is a good message to get out."

"I enjoyed the play. I had never heard a story in my life about a woman in the military. It was a HUGE eye opener to me. The statistics shocked me."

"I thought that this was a brilliant show. I think that the way the different pieces were threaded together really brought things to life. I wish I could see it again and again."

"Compelling work and stories. Presenting women’s good and bad experiences needs to be kept."


  1. Having one of the authors speak and engaged with the performance Q&A adds more relevance, and a dose of reality, to these women and their stories. Jeanie's performance helps them feel validated by illuminating their voices. Each time I see a performance of Coming in Hot it makes we want to read more of the stories from the book Powder.

  2. It is of such importance for women to have a voice in this world. Even more so for these women who have suffered at the hands of their comrades for nothing more than being a woman who either wanted to or had no choice but to serve their country. Whatever one's political leanings, the necessity for the women to speak, and for all of us to hear, is undeniable. Through this show, veterans can heal, the public can learn and maybe, just maybe, a glimmer of hope that the world can change, will be revitalized.

  3. What I liked most about this piece was the balance. It wasn't just blind "support our troops!" without question, and it wasn't a "war is bad and so are all soldiers" diatribe. My frustration is that most people only are interested in hearing one side.

    Some of the statistics were absolutely staggering. It is amazing to me in this day and age women are still in danger just for being women in the American armed forces. Hopefully making these stories known will help men in the armed forces to see what is happening, and to stand up and say "enough is enough. Respect your fellow soldiers, be they men or women."

  4. The material in this show is very powerful. The weaving together of the different stories is artfully done, and the music is haunting. It was particularly illuminating to see women in the military as combatants against their own male comrades as well as the "recognized enemy". Giving voice to these women is clearly important work.

    That being said, I have two issues:

    1. I'm upset by the nature of the production itself, and

    2. I'm disturbed by some of the comments on this blog.

    For #1, I have to say that I was pretty shocked to see Jeanmarie Simpson reading off of pages on a music stand. I've seen her many times before, and can confidently say that she's a consummate professional, and a performer of the highest order. I went to the show to see her more than to see the material, so you can see why I might have been disappointed to see her give this neutered "performance". When I asked her why the staged reading, she said that originally it had been a fully staged show, but too much of the early post-show discussion was spent on the performance, rather than the material, so she and the director mutually agreed to minimize the role of the actor to give more weight to the stories.

    I'm not going to tee off on the obviously offensive aspects of that decision, but I have to ask: why, if the performance isn't important enough for the actor to do any acting, don't you just send around a slideshow with audio? Why even use an actor?

    You know what? I AM gonna tee off. To wit:

    Acting, by its very definition, is breathing life into text. I guarantee that the stories would be MORE powerful if Jeanmarie were released from the harness, not less. If you want your discussions to be on topic, then deal with it formally in the way they are structured, but don't presume that it's the fault of the actor for displaying excessive competence. You're ripping off your audiences.

    As for #2, I would ask anyone - ANYONE - to find me some examples of high-profile, wide-distribution news coverage about the peace movement since Bush left office.

    (I'll wait.)

    (Not much there? Really? Hmm...)

    It's not like there isn't a compelling case to be made. The facts speak for themselves: our young men and women in uniform are dying, while killing lots and lots of other people. This is an ugly, easily illuminated, inescapable fact, but the peace movement can't seem to get the appropriate amount of traction, especially in the national media, that - clearly - the facts would command. At the risk of sounding condescending:

    The fundamental problem with the peace movement is that its loudest voices - indeed, its only public voices - have repeatedly proven themselves incapable of competent messaging. Messaging is the primary instrument in the winning of hearts and minds - that's a fact, and no amount of righteous indignation can ever change it. Here's another fact: any political statement which completely omits its own counterarguments will be seen (by those whose hearts and minds we would like to win) as propaganda (and possibly hysteria), and will therefore be discredited.

    All this is to say that anyone who sees Coming in Hot as not "anti-war enough", or not "a counter-recruitment tool", or - my favorite - "too introspective and self-absorbed" is perhaps not someone the peace movement should be using in an advisory role. Here's the truth: the issues are complex, some of our enemies have all the hallmarks of evil, and not every woman in uniform is raped by a gnat-hung coworker on a body slab. Telling this truth will take your efforts further than the quixotic rantings of someone who is disappointed that a 19-year-old, terrified young woman in uniform for some reason doesn't have a more articulate and convenient peace message. Mark my words.