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University Relations

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Nov. 2, 2005
Contact: Charla Jenkins, University Theatre, (785) 864-2684.

KU Theater and EAT join to produce new play 'An Army of One'

LAWRENCE -- A new full-length play, written by a May 2005 graduate, will be produced at the University of Kansas in mid-November, a joint production of the University Theatre and the English Alternative Theatre.

"An Army of One," written by Topeka native Zacory N. Boatright, will be staged at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14 through 18, 5 p.m. Nov. 19 and 2:30 p.m. Nov. 20. All performances are in the William Inge Memorial Theatre in Murphy Hall.

The script was written by Boatright in a directed study with Paul Stephen Lim, KU professor of English, from fall 2004 through summer 2005.

The KU production is directed by Paul Hough, a KU alumnus and director of production for the American Heartland Theatre in Kansas City, Mo. Delbert Unruh, professor of theatre and film, is the scenic and lighting designer. Costume and make-up designer is Stephen Burkett, Odessa, Mo., graduate student; Nicholas Mosher, a May 2005 KU graduate from Lawrence, is sound designer, and Tony Ontiveros, Olathe senior, is video designer.

"An Army of One" tells the story of a patriotic young American and his family's relationship to the military. After returning from a tour of duty in Iraq, Joshua Harrison struggles to reconcile his memories of the war with the everyday realities of home. He is suffering the onset of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and the line that separates reality from memory fades as the two worlds collide. Past and present co-exist in the same space while Josh relives the war all over again, this time waged entirely on the battlefield of the Harrison family home.

Boatright's play touches on wartime issues such as patriotism, honor and duty to country as well as support for the military, and focuses attention on the needs of veterans. He had already started writing it when he read an article in Newsweek that changed the play completely. He had been studying contemporary military history about the war in Vietnam and Desert Storm when he read about Jeffrey Lucey, a Marine reservist who after completing his tour of duty in Iraq and returning home to his family, committed suicide because of problems with PTSD.

Boatright doesn't categorize his play as "pro-war" or "anti-war."

"This is a play about war -- a one-man war with the theme of oneness in the military," Boatright said. "These men are brothers in arms while in combat, but when they come home, they're alone."

Director Hough adds, "This play demands that we take responsibility for the deployment of our troops, who are largely enlisted men from the lower classes of our society. We have to face the truth that, in a sense, we were all at Abu Ghraib, that we are all implicated in and criminally responsible for all who have suffered at our hands."

What does the young playwright want audiences to get out of his play?

"I want them to be angry, to question what they believe. I want them to see the play, then look around and see if there are veterans like Josh around them."

General admission tickets for "An Army of One" are on sale at the KU ticket offices: University Theatre, 864-3982, and Lied Center, 864-ARTS; and online at Tickets are $12 for the public, $10 for all students and KU faculty and staff and $11 for senior citizens. VISA and Mastercard are accepted for phone and online orders. The production is suggested for mature audiences and is not suitable for children.

"An Army of One" is a participating entry in the 2006 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival XXXVIII and is eligible for the Michael Kanin Playwriting Awards.

Members of the cast are (listed by name, class and major, parents' names, high school and role):

From Lawrence
Kris Hilding, seventh-grader at Southwest Junior High School, son of Jerel and Krystyna Hilding, Young Josh.
Dylan Hilpman, senior theatre and voice major, son of Dwight and Peggy Hilpman, Lawrence Free State High School, Middle Josh.

From Lenexa
Joe Carey, sophomore film major, son of John and Beverly Carey, Shawnee Mission Northwest High School, Josh Now.

From Overland Park
Candice Bondank, junior theatre and vocal performance major, Shawnee Mission South High School, Katie.

From Topeka
Rachael Perry, senior Spanish and theatre major, daughter of John and Jennifer Perry, Hayden High School, Mom.

From Chesterfield
Ryan Klamen, freshman theatre and film major, son of Mr. and Mrs. Kelly Klamen, Marquette High School, Interviewer/Recruiter.


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