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Jan. 5, 2006
Contact: Charla Jenkins, University Theatre, (785) 864-2684.

KU's 'An Army of One,' 9 students selected for regional theater festival Jan. 22-28

LAWRENCE -- "An Army of One," a new full-length play written by a University of Kansas graduate, has been selected for performance at the Region V festival of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. The drama, originally presented at KU in mid-November, is a joint production of the University Theatre and the English Alternative Theatre.

The regional festival will be Jan. 22-28 in Fargo, N.D., and Moorhead, Minn. "An Army of One" will be performed at noon and 2:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27, in the Frances Frazier Comstock Theatre on the Concordia College campus in Moorhead.

Nine KU students are participating in the Irene Ryan Scholarship Competition, held as part of the festival Jan. 23-24. Included are nominees from the EAT productions of "Zoo Story" and "The Holocaust Kid" as well as from the University Theatre productions of "Three Sisters," "Popcorn" and "An Army of One."

A special benefit performance of "An Army of One" will be staged at KU at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 20, in the Crafton-Preyer Theatre in Murphy Hall. Proceeds from the benefit will be used to offset the costs of attending the regional festival.

"An Army of One" was written by Topeka native Zacory N. Boatright in a directed study with Paul Stephen Lim, KU professor of English, from fall 2004 to summer 2005.

The KU production was 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, was scenic and lighting designer. Costume and make-up designer was Stephen Burkett, Odessa, Mo., graduate student; Nicholas Mosher, a May 2005 KU graduate from Lawrence, was sound designer, and Tony Ontiveros, Olathe senior, was 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 re-lives 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 started writing it when he read a Newsweek article 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 a tour of duty in Iraq and returning home, committed suicide because of problems with PTSD. Lucey's father attended the KU production in November.

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 the benefit performance of "An Army of One" are on sale in the University Theatre ticket office, 864-3982, and online at kutheatre.com. 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" was KU's participating entry in the 2006 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival XXXVIII and is eligible for the Michael Kanin Playwriting Awards. Productions selected for the regional KCACTF festivals are in the running for selection to the national festival, held in Washington, D.C., in April.

Student members of the KU company attending the regional festival include (listed by name, class and major, parents' names, high school and role):

DOUGLAS COUNTY
From Lawrence
Dianne-Yvette Cook, senior theatre major, daughter of Harold and Muriel Cook, Lawrence Free State High School; Irene Ryan Scholarship nominee for "Three Sisters."
Kris Hilding, seventh-grader at Southwest Junior High School, son of Jerel and Krystyna Hilding; Young Josh in "An Army of One."
Dylan Hilpman, senior theatre and voice major, son of Dwight and Peggy Hilpman, Lawrence Free State High School; Middle Josh and Irene Ryan Scholarship nominee for "An Army of One."

FINNEY COUNTY
From Garden City
Robbie Jones, graduate student in scenography, Garden City High School and Southwestern College; set crew for "An Army of One."

JOHNSON COUNTY
From DeSoto
Jeremy Riggs, sophomore theatre and film major, son of Mr. and Mrs. Larry Riggs, DeSoto Senior High School; sound board operator for "An Army of One."

From Leawood
Courtney Schweitzer, junior theatre and film major, daughter of Linda and Ken Schweitzer, Blue Valley High School; Irene Ryan Scholarship acting partner.

From Lenexa
Joe Carey, sophomore film major, son of John and Beverly Carey, Shawnee Mission Northwest High School; Josh Now and Irene Ryan Scholarship nominee for "An Army of One."
Val Smith, sophomore art history major, daughter of Tom and Vicki Smith, Shawnee Mission Northwest High School; Irene Ryan Scholarship nominee for "Popcorn."

From Merriam
Patrick Crough, junior journalism and Spanish major, son of Deborah Crough, Shawnee Mission North High School; Irene Ryan Scholarship nominee for "Zoo Story."

From Olathe
Eric F. Avery, senior theatre major, son of Mary Ann Avery and John and Vivian Avery, Highland Park High School, Topeka; Irene Ryan Scholarship acting partner.

From Overland Park
Candice Bondank, junior theatre and vocal performance major, Shawnee Mission South High School; Katie and Irene Ryan Scholarship nominee for "An Army of One."
Nathan R. Totten, sophomore sociology and marketing major, son of Noel Totten and Donna Mayoral, Shawnee Mission Northwest High School; Irene Ryan Scholarship acting partner.

From Shawnee
Niccole Thurman, senior theatre major, daughter of Amy Thurman, Shawnee Mission North High School; Irene Ryan Scholarship acting partner.

PAWNEE COUNTY
From Larned
Kate E. Giessel, senior theatre and linguistics major, daughter of Tom and Sheryl Giessel, Larned High School; Irene Ryan Scholarship nominee for "Popcorn."

SHAWNEE COUNTY
From Topeka
Adam R. Burnett, sophomore theatre and creative writing major, son of Vicki Fulmer and Russell Burnett, Topeka High School; dramaturge for "An Army of One."
Rachael Perry, senior Spanish and theatre major, daughter of John and Jennifer Perry, Hayden High School; Mom in "An Army of One."

ILLINOIS
From Downers Grove
Meg Saricks, junior theatre and communications major, daughter of Chris and Joyce Saricks, Downers Grove South High School; assistant director and stage manager for "An Army of One."

From Wheaton
Larissa M. Ejzak, senior physics and theatre and film major, daughter of Richard and Karen Ejzak; Wheaton Warrenville South High School; Irene Ryan Scholarship nominee for "The Holocaust Kid."

MAINE
From Falmouth
Carter Royce Waite, junior theatre and film major, son of DeDe Waite and David Waite, Falmouth High School; Irene Ryan Scholarship acting partner.

MINNESOTA
From Lakeville
Justin Knudsen, senior theatre and creative writing major, son of Ken and Barb Knudsen, Lakeville Senior High School; Irene Ryan Scholarship nominee for "Three Sisters" and light board operator for "An Army of One."

MISSOURI
From Chesterfield
Ryan Klamen, freshman theatre and film major, son of Mr. and Mrs. Kelly Klamen, Marquette High School; Interviewer/Recruiter in "An Army of One."

From Odessa
Stephen Burkett, graduate student in theatre, son of Brenda and David Brenneman, Odessa High School and 2005 KU graduate; costume designer for "An Army of One."

NEW MEXICO
From Farmington
D. Dylan Walker, junior theatre and film major, son of Dr. Dan Walker; Irene Ryan Scholarship acting partner.

OKLAHOMA
From Norman
Kate Hurley, senior theatre and voice major, daughter of of Phil and Gail Hurley, Norman High School North; Irene Ryan Scholarship acting partner.

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