Thursday, March 5, 2015

Bradenton-area veterans tell their stories on stage

   They all had military backgrounds and absolutely no theater experience. On Tuesday. they put on a show in St. Petersburg that drew a rousing ovation from a standing-room-only crowd.
   The men and women who make up the cast of "Telling: Tampa Bay" will be in Sarasota Friday to reprise their performance piece at the Players Theatre. It's free and open to the public.
   The piece originated with two-hour-long interviews with six veterans, plus one veteran's wife, about their military experiences. Texas-based writer and director Jonathan Wei shaped the
Terri Davis
interviews into a stage play, performed by the veterans themselves under the direction of long-time St. Petersburg professional director Lisa Powers. They have rehearsed for about 12 hours a week since January.
   Several of the performers are from the Bradenton-Sarasota area. One of the men lost a leg in combat. One of the woman was raped by American military men.
  Bradenton's Terri Davis has happier story. She worked at the Pentagon as a cryptography technician during the Cold War, and spent two great years in Iceland, where she met her husband.
   "I sort of have the comic relief story," she said.
   She describes the show as " a lot of little stories and one big story."
   Davis said her first performance was uncomfortable, because she was reading her own words, but they had been edited into a script by someone else. The response from the first audience, though, has left her feeling excited to get on stage Friday at the Players.
   "After Tuesday," she said, "it's going to be a lot easier.

   Friday's performance begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Players Theatre, , 838 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. It lasts about an hour, and it's followed by a talk-back. (At Tuesday';s performance, the talk-back was ended after an hour of audience still had questions and comments.)
   The original interviews were conducted at the WEDU studio in Tampa. They'll be worked into a documentary that will be aired nationally on PBS on Veterans Day.
   For information call 941-365-2494 or go to

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