Sponsored by Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC), "Telling: Des Moines" is a November 2012 theatrical production in which Central Iowa military veterans of all ages and eras share their stories of service, in their own voices and words. Performances will take place on the DMACC campus in Ankeny, Iowa, and other venues.
America has been at war for more than 10 years, but with less than 1 percent of the population serving in the military, the veterans among us go largely unseen. The actors and producers of "Telling: Des Moines" hope to change that.
In their own words, veterans and military family members will tell their personal stories of service and sacrifice, ranging from the jungles of Vietnam and the mountains of Afghanistan to the departures gate of the Des Moines International Airport. "Telling: Des Moines" is an original and unforgettable theatre event not to be missed.
Four of the seven cast members have past or present connection to the 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division. All have connections to service in the Iowa National Guard.
A World War II U.S. Navy veteran may also present his story at one or more performances.
"Telling: Des Moines" will be performed three times:
Thurs., Nov. 8 at 11:15 a.m.
Fri., Nov. 9 at 7 p.m.
Sat., Nov. 10 at 7 p.m.
All performances will be at the Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) campus in Ankeny, Iowa, in the auditorium located in Building No. 6. Tickets are FREE for DMACC students, faculty and staff, and $10 for the general public (cash only, please) and can be picked up in advance of the show at the Student Activities Office, Building No. 5, Room 27. Proceeds and donations will be used to offset production costs and to fund scholarships for veterans.
“More than 650 DMACC students are student-veterans and beneficiaries using G.I. Bill benefits,” says Laurie Wolf, DMACC Executive Dean of Student Services. “As a community of learning, 'Telling: Des Moines' is a way for us to creatively and constructively engage each other in conversations about military service and sacrifice.”
For more information about the show, check out www.tellingdesmoines.org. For ticket information, call the DMACC Student Activities Offices at 515.964.6376., Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. To make tax-deductible donations to the DMACC performance, contact Tara Connolly, DMACC Foundation, at: 515.964.6447.
Based in Austin, Texas, The Telling Project's founder Jonathan Wei has helped create similar productions in:
Eugene and Portland, Ore.
Iowa City, Iowa
Des Moines Area Community College, a public institution serving the educational and career training needs of Iowans, is committed to the lifelong success of its students. As Iowa’s largest two-year college, DMACC offers 153 programs, certificates and transfer degrees, annually serving more than 75,000 credit and noncredit students on six campuses and in three learning centers. Thanks to college-wide innovation, new programs and affordable tuition, DMACC has experienced record growth and is the 15th fastest growing two-year college in America. For more information, please visit www.dmacc.edu.
For directions to the DMACC Ankeny campus, click here.
For a map of the DMACC Ankeny campus, click here.
Our cast continues to meet weekly on the Ankeny campus of Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC), getting a feel for basic acting techniques, tricks, and terms, as well as each other. We're on our third week of rehearsals.
Meanwhile, our writer-producer (producer-writer?) Jonathan Wei is banging away at a script somewhere down in Texas, transcribing our initial interviews and weaving them together into a larger work. Many of us were interviewed back in January 2012. A few of us have even wondered aloud as to whether we're still the same people we were back then. It's funny, but not a joke. Life is a moving target. A few of us have encountered significant decisions and events since last winter.
We're looking forward to meeting our former selves, and hearing what we have to say.
I missed last week's rehearsal in order to attend a "military writers' conference" in Denver, Colo. Week No. 2's assignment had been to present an object to our fellow cast members, something connected to our respective military experiences. I was sorry to have missed the opportunity to participate in the show-and-tell. Director Jennifer Fawcett allowed me the opportunity to share my object at this week's rehearsal. Sort of make-up homework.
I chose my burnt-orange floppy hat from the Multinational Force and Observers (M.F.O.) mission in Sinai, Egypt. "I got my combat patch for peacekeeping duty," I like to say. Personnel serving on MFO duty—Fijians, Columbians, Hungarian, Kiwi, and more—wore the uniforms of their nations' respective militaries, but we all wore the same hat.
Our sergeant major didn't much care how we wore ours—this was in the days before color-coded Reflective Safety Belts and other garrison finery. How one chose to wear the hat became a matter of self-expression during our time in the desert.
The hats featured a flap of cloth that could be extended to shield one's neck from the sun. It also featured a chinstrap. Neither was ever used.
"It's a fishing hat," Danielle says, after my show-and-tell.
I had never before thought of it that way.
Later in rehearsal, each of us worked on reading aloud an excerpt from a book or play, taken from a selection of monologues collected by the director. In keeping with the military theme, there were a few selections from David Finkel's "The Good Soldiers". There were some non-military selections, too. Jennette Walls' "Half Broke Horses" was one. I randomly selected an essay from David Sedaris' "Naked," which involved the author's show-business epiphany when a mime visited his high school.
Next week's assignment, coincidentally? Present to our fellow cast members an activity—something we do regularly—without vocalization or use of props.
The cast of "Telling: Des Moines" met for the first time last Wednesday night, Sept. 5. It was a sunny Iowa evening on the Ankeny campus of Des Moines Area Community College, and it felt like the end of summer.
There were football players practicing out by the pond, and the three blades of the windmill generator on campus spun slowly in the sunlight. The student center was open, and there were a few students milling about before evening classes.
After we had each found our meeting place, the energy in the room was similarly "back to school." There was lots of anticipation, with a few nerves mixed in. We circled the chairs, and introduced ourselves. Later in the evening, director Jennifer Fawcett led us through a few breathing and bonding exercises. Improvisational stuff, similar to what you've probably seen on TV.
There were, notably, many hilarious mentions of goats.
Maybe you had to be there.
I won't use names for now on this blog, as we're all still getting to know each other. Even with our first short meeting, however, I can say that are already a few exciting patterns:
We are a pretty "green" group. Unlike previous "Telling" groups in other cities, which featured mixes of soldiers, sailors, Marines, and others, each of the Des Moines cast is linked to the military by way of the U.S. Army. One of us was active-duty. Seven of us are connected to the U.S. Army National Guard, six by membership and one by marriage. Our service ranges from the Vietnam War to present day.
At least four of us either wear or have worn the "Red Bull" patch of the U.S. 34th Infantry Division, a unit with historical roots in Iowa and Minnesota. I can tell you more about that in future posts. And, no doubt, I probably will.