For generations, letters from servicemen serving overseas — especially during a time of war — have been treasured heirlooms in families, often tucked away in a box or a scrapbook.
And during modern times when we often communicate through email, text messaging and social media, those hand-written letters sent from or to those serving in the Middle East have become more rare, and more treasured.
As another Veterans Day approaches, the Higley Center for the Performing Arts, 4132 E. Pecos Road, is hosting for the first time, the Chicago-based Griffin Theater touring production “Letters Home” as part of Arts Month in Gilbert.
The program, which will include authentic letters written by and to U.S. soldiers, will be read by professional actors from the Actors Equity Association, said Larry Whitesell, executive manager for Higley Center for the Performing Arts.
Sponsored by Joe’s Real BBQ in Gilbert and the East Valley Tribune, the event will begin at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 30. The event also serves as a kickoff to the region’s nationally-recognized Veterans Day celebration, slated for Nov. 9 at Higley High School.
Two tickets for the price of one for “Letters Home” are available for active military members and veterans.
The content of the letters provide an insight to the difficulties of being separated from loved ones; the voices in the letters are united by patriotism in our military service members and commitment to public service as a video of photographs from the Middle East will backdropped on a screen.
“I believe it will be an enlightening and touching production,” Whitesell said. “It’s a fairly different production and will be a series of monologues in which the actors will act out what’s in the letters. It’s something that’s real and thoughtful and is different than what a lot of other theaters are doing across the country.
“It should give a real look into what members of the military are going through when serving in the Middle East and portray how dangerous those areas really are. It reminds us about what people go through to defend our freedoms.”
Mayor John Lewis has proclaimed October as Arts Month in the Town of Gilbert. This year’s theme is “Connecting Arts to the Community: Full STEAM Ahead.” STEAM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math, a movement that is gaining attention in business, education and arts circles across the nation. A play on the popular STEM acronym, the goal of STEAM is to recognize the potentially powerful connection that the arts provide in teaching and learning in the other content areas (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)
As for “Letters Home,” Whitesell said, “We are the only center in the Valley hosting this production and it is for one night only. We’re hoping to have a good turnout and hope that our active members of the military who are in town as well as veterans come out and enjoy the show.”
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