Sunday, October 31, 2010

Rainshadow, 7pm October 29th

Full house at Rainshadow Community Charter High School on Friday evening, the 29th of October.

Excellent show... So much perspective jammed into 75 minutes... terrific!

Last night's performance was truly awesome and very moving... spectacular woman!

Amazing. Something to help us all understand. Jeanmarie is as versatile and heartbreakingly beautiful as ever.

The performance was outstanding. Everybody should see it, what an eyeopener.

One of the most powerful experiences I've had in a while. She is brilliant and the soundtrack is chilling. We need to find a way for caregivers and patient at VAs to see the production.

Powerful, and made me think. it seems every generation has to relearn the horrors of war...

What an amazing performance! Thank you for doing this. It gave me food for thought, even though I kept quiet during the civil discourse. I was listening and digesting and processing. Still feel it all very much.

Outstanding and important.

Totally sticks with you. Her face is so amazing. she is ALL those women.... actually...aren't we all?

Fantastic, thought-provoking show... a beautifully nuanced one woman show. I was also mightily impressed by the original music that provided a wonderful feel to the piece. Brava!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Rainshadow Community Charter High School

About a hundred students, faculty and staff attended the performance October 27th at 2pm. The show was the first of its nature at the school - intense and intimate, rather than raucous and noisy - and the student body wasn't prepared to be quiet at first - they almost seemed to be watching television, making comments and laughing nervously (which is expected with the age group, in general). This video was taken (very washed out, unfortunately, but the audio is good) at a point when Jeanmarie paused to address the situation.

After this point, the room was much more quiet, if not pin-drop, sitting on the edge of the seat attentive. Thank the gods for small favors.


That is horrible and I never want to hear anything like that again.
I thought the performance was amazing! What really caught my attention was the passion in her words. I felt like I was there. She inspires me. I hope she continues to tell people her stories.

I didn't really know what she was talking about.
Thank you so much for bringing this to Rainshadow. It is heart-breaking, beautiful and insightful about a world I personally know very little about. These stories brought me closer to wars my own country has fought, but ones I never could find any sort of connection to. This play made me laugh, cry and angry at different times.

I really couldn't follow. So I didn't enjoy it too much. I didn't at all. Sorry, but I was bored to death. :(

Every word was a picture pixelated deep in my head. I cried. I saw the death. The sexual harassment. The 4 year-old daughter barely understanding the half-truth she was given. For a second, my mind made it real for me. I am a pacifist, myself. I dislike the mind games and the brainwash. But I know emotion is real and raw and this made me feel, and the way she presented this emotion was flawless.

Very threatening - feels like you're there and showed how she felt and went through. Very impacting.

This play showed a lot of things that I didn't know about the military. It was eye opening.

You did really great at performing. Those stories are historical to me now.

My thoughts aren't appreciated by 99% of the world.

It was inspiring.

Yes, it was a good play and it's good to where it tells that there is problems in the army and should be taken care of. Our military shouldn't mistreat women!

Thank you for the stories - they are a reminder of both how far we've come and how far we have to go.

Thank you for coming. That was wonderful. Thanks again.

Thanks for coming. I loved it. It was amazing.

It was very special and amazing and weird, but weird be good.

The performance was life-changing, inspiring and hope he people don't go through this while in the army again.

Thank you, thank you! I could hardly bear to look at you without starting to weep. It will be a very moving tape - no visuals needed. You may feel this has been battle condition performance!

She spoke clearly and she got into her story. It was good how she talked about her story or about the story in war. She was honest. Well it look like you wanted to cry - you were shaking when you were drinking water.

I thought that was a truly powerful story. Thank you for telling us.

I liked it, felt for what happened to these people.

It was inspiring. I'm very proud someone shares the story.

My sister would have loved this. She's going to join. :/

It was an amazing show. It was funny and sad.

I wanted to go into the army, but not anymore. Very beautiful how you expressed their stories. Powerful speech. Very sad.

I thought it was amazing and some of the stories were really messed up and touching.

I liked that the punctuation of the mortuary worker serves dually as a reminder of the premature finality of so many lives and as the specter of impending doom. There is SO MUCH more to say!

I'm impressed with the impression it left with these kids. Unfortunate that the theater medium can sometimes discredit the significance of facts with yet it's own entertainment identity.Without it no one from the general community would endure yet another factual dissertation. Good luck for I hope you open the eyes, and minds of many. After years of Actor's etc.. speaking out on issues, some without any reference,or legitimate justification; I believe while the masses follow unquestionably, the informed scrutinize dumbfounded. I hope your mission/message gets the time due it's importance. America truly needs to wake up from the dream, and become accountable; moral, honest, genuine, considerate, and truly conservative with their self administered entitlement.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Coffee Strong

Coffee Strong
Veteran-owned and operated GI coffeehouse
Lakewood, Washington
October 16 1pm

20 in the audience, 8 veterans all male, 12 family members and barristas. All of the vets came up to me after the show and thanked me. One, who had been in Vietnam, cried and hugged me.


So moving – gut wrenching – wish that it could be performed at all high schools. Performance was amazing.

Brings back memories of ‘Nam.

The powerfully crafted voices are moving, chilling, heavy revealing and, above all things, sacred. Thank you for your passion. I am haunted, saddened, informed and very thankful to hear these stories.

Well portraited. The monologue covers actual accounts of feelings and thought. I wasn’t difficult to fall into her visions in each story. Thank you for the delivery.

Thank you! You touched many parts of my soul and my memory. There’s a lot of pain and healing- still searching for a path after all these years.

I’m humbled. Thanks for your courage to do what scares you and showing the way. I am a therapist with no military background, drawn to be present to help soldiers return. Thanks for your portrayals of the truth of war.


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."

Saturday, October 16, 2010

10-9-10 Hollywood

60 people were in attendance for the "No More Victims" benefit performance hosted by Cole and Ann Miller. Blase Bonpane, Frank Dorrel and other long-time activists from the peace community were there. Dylan Brody lead the after-show discussion (see his review here). One woman in the audience said emphatically that "the violence that has been going on for centuries needs to stop" and that we "must stop it." Another woman made a plea for teaching compassion to our children and guiding them away from violent means to problem-solving at an early age. Another audience member asked "what does it mean to present a wide-range of opinions, of aspects to a collective psyche?" Jeanmarie talked about how in high schools, in some cases, that kids changed their minds about joining the military after seeing the play; I commented that the intention behind presenting a mosaic, not a political polemic, was to create compassion for all of our humanity and make it difficult to "other" (ie, internalize one's own violent feelings) toward another group---a group which, in this case, suffers abuse and is under-voiced. The longer view of peace-making that this project takes is one of understanding across differences, across cultures and healing through story-telling and truth-telling.

Here is what some folks said when asked, on-line and after the show, what they thought:

"The play is surely an honest warning to young people. It is kind of like SCARED STRAIGHT which told people the horrors of being imprisoned. I am sure it has a very practical value as has been demonstrated in the visits to schools. But there is a second shoe, the devastation caused by our endless military interventions. Perhaps that should be the sequel. As for our troops who are in effect slaves, I would only want the best treatment. In my view, this should also be the case for prostitutes and prisoners.

Our veterans are the vanguard of the peace movement. No one has made a greater indictment of our slaughter than the troops

"I did not like the play at all. . . it wasn’t anti-war enough for me. The one part of the play that I do think would be good for girls and young women to see was the part about one in three women in the military being raped and three out of four being sexually abused. Other than that, the play does not work for me as an anti-war peace activist. It might work for people who are not part of the anti-war peace movement."

" I didn't see the play as a counter-recruitment tool, but more as a means for motivating young women to work toward better treatment of women and gays in the military. The stories used, for me, were far too introspective and self-absorbed; I was honestly shocked at the lack of empathy for the civilians of the countries we've invaded. I couldn't muster up much sympathy for a woman who didn't get to kiss her partner good-bye, when she was willingly going into a situation where she might be killing innocent civilians, or at the very least, terrorizing them simply by being there!  If there was talk of "conscience" or worry about the innocents I may have felt differently.

I can't see a soldier in uniform without wondering if he or she had hurt or killed or terrified an innocent civilian in Afghanistan or Iraq.  I think of the fear "No More Victims" kids must feel when they see a US Army uniform or hear the sounds of our weapons, and it makes it very difficult for me to listen from anything other than the civilians' perspective."

"We are the ones doing the invading. We are the ones killing and torturing civilians, and tearing entire countries to pieces. They are the terrorized ones, not us. The identity politics of economic conscripts are unpersuasive in this context. Not many Iraqis can afford college, but I don't think that gives them the right to invade America and kill Americans for tuition money.

The play does expose the imperial narcissism that afflicts the United States. . . but I can't really empathize with a soldier before she departs on imperial errands. The stats from Iraq are appalling: around a million dead, more maimed and wounded, millions of orphans, 4.5 million living the miserable lives of refugees, decades of development intentionally destroyed by powerful and indiscriminate munitions, an entire generation poisoned by depleted uranium and reduced to penury. The cultural inheritance of 7,000 years scattered to the winds in the cradle of civilization. And in the midst of this, Americans are whining hysterically about an Islamic YMCA being built two blocks from "Our Hallowed Ground." This display of narcissism is about as convincing an indictment of Americans and imperial culture as one could imagine. The play certainly exposes aspects of this imperial narcissism, an important contribution to our understanding, but most students are unlikely to perceive it.

A strong piece by a woman who witnessed and participated in the killing of civilians would strengthen the piece enormously.  We need that perspective as well."

"It is with no regret whatsoever that I cannot provide you with a killing followed by remorse story. I was in Uzbekistan two months after the attacks on 9/11, which were brought to our front door step, so to speak.  We were attacked, and the Taliban was more than happy to claim ownership of it (whether or not they did). Our presence in Uzbekistan meant a huge boost for their local economy, and the people I spoke with were not displeased with our military presence as just south of their border the Taliban had been subjugating women, minorities and any number of others who dared disagree with them.  The story was much the same in Iraq. . .  The people cheered us on from the sides of the roads as we convoyed through to destroy the military encampments just miles away. This was quite the shock to me.  I learned a new compassion for a people who were so terrorized by their own government that they welcomed foreigners who greeted them at the point of a gun.

Having believed in our cause when we invaded I soon found myself subject to the political musings of men and women who will do anything to get themselves more political pull. . .  Nine years and we are still occupying, still dying, still terrorizing. I say "we" because it is the soldiers who receive the ill will for occupying countries where we do not wish to be. I know of very few of my fellow soldiers who want to go back for their third, fourth, fifth tours. "We" are tired of the fighting. "We" want this insidious war over probably far more than the peace activists. They have statistics to cite, we have countless friends who have lost their lives for this political cause. "We" have returned permanently crippled, both physically and emotionally.    

I sincerely hope that CIH is not merely to dissuade women from joining the military. . .I love your project so much because it gives a voice to a group of people who are not generally heard.  I want a voice. I want voices for my sisters. I want to be included in the discourses of history."

"We are trying to open up our net of compassion and understand other points of view in order to appreciate the reasons that such huge numbers join the military. When surrounded by war wounded vets, were I to approach them as demons who have learned - too late - the error of their ways, it would only deepen their feelings of guilt and self-reproach. I appreciate vets coming forward and telling their stories. I learn from all of the points of view."

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).