‘The American Soldier’ to illuminate the impact of military service at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage

Douglas Taurel's one-man show is one of many ways local theaters and businesses are connecting with veterans and military service members and their families on Veterans Day 2019

Next week, The Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage will present a performance keyed to Veteran’s Day–The American Soldier, conceived, written and performed by Douglas Taurel. The November 13 performance is a military veteran-themed play; but more so it is a human interest story about family told through the words of real service members and their families from the American Revolution to the present.

Douglas Taurel performs 'The American Soldier.' Photo by Diana Bush Photography.
Douglas Taurel performs ‘The American Soldier.’ Photo by Diana Bush Photography.

In an interview, Taurel indicated that The American Soldier is a performance shining a spotlight on those who serve and have served “to understand their consequences and sacrifices including on their children and families.”

In his solo performance, Taurel portrays men and women and their families who have served since Valley Forge through the Civil War, the two World Wars and then Korea, the Vietnam War, and current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The performance is built upon real events; the actual words service members put down on paper and in letters. Taurel did extensive research for his project at the NY Public Library and listening to military service members.

From his background work, Taurel, who is not a military veteran, “has a much clearer appreciation for those who serve.” This includes issues surrounding PTSD.

Taurel has performed The American Soldier throughout the United States, including a previous visit to The Kennedy Center in 2016 and at The Library of Congress as well. The play has been nominated for an Amnesty International Award.

Taurel and The Kennedy Center are not alone in providing recognition to military service veterans in our midst.

Douglas Taurel performs 'The American Soldier.' Photo by Diana Bush Photography.
Douglas Taurel performs ‘The American Soldier.’ Photo by Diana Bush Photography.

With Veterans Day 2019 celebrated on Monday, November 11, DC Theater Arts would like to bring attention to military service members and veterans a Veterans Day discount listing prepared by the US Department of Veterans Affairs.

These Veterans Day discounts, free meals, and other programs are being shared so that veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors are aware of all resources available to them. According to the U.S. Census Bureau there are about 380,000 veterans in the local area.

Further, while Mondays are usually dark for the DMV performing arts community, DCMTA would like to bring to military service members and their families information about the Blue Star Theatres collaboration with the national Theatre Communications Group (TCG). The collaboration provides for discount theater tickets and other services. Through Blue Star Theatres, TCG plans to help better connect theater offerings to military personnel across the United States.

The Blue Star Theatre initiative is intended to recognize the contributions of service families, to build stronger connections between the theatre community and military families in communities all across the country. It is considered one small way meant to aid service people.

DCMTA readers should also check individual DMV theater companies for other military service ticket information. We are aware that many theaters in the area have discounted tickets for active-duty servicemembers or veterans.

Directed by Padraic Lillie, The American Soldier touches on many aspects of war and explores what veterans and families face day to day, especially when they return home from combat. It brings awareness for the sacrifices our veterans and their families have made for America. As Taurel so succinctly said, “How hard it must be for a parent to see a child go off to war.”

An issue Taurel raised in his interview was that it “can be difficult to get veterans to leave their home” to take in entertainment. So he wants others to “reach out to and cherish them. To do more than thank them for their service. To not forget them when they return.”

Taurel observed that veterans have shared that they can “become unlocked” from listening to the raw stories and emotional letters read that compose The American Soldier. It can also provide “people who have never experienced war or military service, a true and excellent idea of what is it is like. How it touches your soul, and changes your life,” as one military service member wrote to him.

So as you consider how to observe Veterans Day, consider a performance of The American Soldier. For Taurel, the show strives to help everyone to better understand how and why it is so difficult for men and women in the armed services to re-enter the world after serving.

Running Time: 60 minutes, with no intermission.

Douglas Taurel: The American Soldier performs Wednesday, November 13, 2019, at 6 pm at The Kennedy Center Millennium Stage – 2700 F Street NW, Washington, DC. Admission is free – no ticket required.

Note: For more on the demographics of those serving in the U.S. military, this report may be of interest.


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