The renowned Vietnam War-era play How I Got That Story will be read from the stage in Hyman Fine Art Center's Kassab Recital Hall on Wednesday, Feb. 20 at 7:30 p.m. The play’s author, Amlin Gray, will conduct a talk-back with the audience following the performance.
How I Got That Story is set in “Ambo-Land,” a mythical country remarkably like war-torn Vietnam where, in a kaleidoscope of interlocking scenes, a naive young Reporter from America’s heartland encounters a range of bizarre characters, including foul-mouthed G.I.s, a teenage prostitute, the sinister lady ruler of the country, a Buddhist monk about to immolate himself, and many others--all played by the same actor. The Reporter joins a combat patrol, goes off on a bombing mission, is injured by shrapnel and, in the end, becomes so radicalized that he spurns his job and "goes native."
Frank Rich, a reviewer for the New York Times, wrote, “by play’s end, this forlorn pilgrim's progress becomes a paradigm of his country's own experience in those nightmarish years. Instead of winning his battle to cover the war, the reporter is destroyed by it—to the point that he loses both his innocence and his mind.”
How I Got That Story was first produced in April, 1979 at the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, where Gray served as Playwright in Residence, and then transferred to the Second Stage, Off-Broadway, in December 1980, where it won the Obie Award for Best Play. The Hollywood Reporter called the play “a stunning theatrical achievement” and the New York Daily News called it “a bitterly funny and affecting piece of work.”
Gray served as a medic during the Vietnam War. His other plays, which include Founding Father, Namesake, and Pirates, or Rackham in Love, have been developed at the Eugene O’Neill Center and produced around the country. He has also translated/adapted plays by Moliere and Georg Buchner. His appearance at FMU, and the reading of the play, is sponsored by FMU’s Honors Program, Artists and Lecture Series and English Department. Gray will speak with students in FMU English Professor Jon Tuttle’s Honors 397/Vietnam War and American Culture Class, as well as students in FMU’s Mass Communications program.
About Gray’s visit, Tuttle says, “We are of course very fortunate to have a writer of Mr. Gray’s stature visiting us at FMU and making himself available for conversation not just about his play, but about the Vietnam War and the changes it wrought in every facet of American life. This was a war that changed the American character, for better and worse. This play not only describes the madness of the war and the inability of any one person to see into it clearly, it also foresees the ways war reportage would change over the following decades.”
The reading is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Tuttle at (843) 661-1521.