Indiana State University Newsroom

Play to examine women’s roles in Vietnam War, Oct. 18-22

October 10, 2017

One of the nation's most enduring theatrical productions about the Vietnam War will open Indiana State University's department of theater 2017-18 production season on Oct. 18.

"A Piece of My Heart" is based on the true events of six women who served in Vietnam -- three nurses, a USO performer, a WAC intelligence specilalist and a country-western singer. The play takes a look at the women's lives before, during and after the war as they experience the best and the worst of times.

"There a lot of plays about the Vietnam War, but women in war is a perspective that isn't explored," said Julie Dixon, the play's director and associate professor of theater at State. "I chose this play because I'm interested in women's stories being told because they aren't told enough. We want to show what the women in Vietnam went through."

The adaptation of the play comes from "A Piece of My Heart," a book written by Keith Walker. The play has received high praise from The New York Times and Variety. The Vietnam Veterans Association called it "the most enduring play on the Vietnam War."

"What makes this play enduring is that it encapsulates a whole experience," Dixon said. "It's not using Vietnam as a backdrop for a story. It is about Vietnam, the people who chose to go and why they chose to go, the different experiences they have while there and what they experience coming back. Other Vietnam plays fiddle with the truth, but this is a true story."

"A Piece of My Heart" takes the audience on a journey through the Vietnam War with no representation of physical scenery on stage.

"The actors are in so many different places that they create the places and scenery with their words," Dixon said. "You have to listen to the words or else you might not always understand where you are. The actors will describe their experiences in a way that the crowd can create their own visual of what is being described. The story is interesting enough for the crowd to be involved and pay attention to what is going on."

Along with learning the script for the play, the actors also had to learn about the Vietnam War and what all it entailed.

"Over the summer, I gave my actors a list of things to watch and read to give them an understanding of what the war was about," Dixon said. "We talked to women who served in the Vietnam War as nurses to get a better feel for what that was like."

The experience was a crash-course in U.S. history for Michelle Dabney, a theater major from Indianapolis.

"I learned a lot about the Vietnam War being in this play," said Dabney, a junior. "I had no idea that vets were hated when they came back from the war. There was also a film and photographs of the war that we watched and saw some of the things that were happening then."

Not only has the cast worked hard rehearsing five days a week, four hours each night, but also they have put themselves in their characters' shoes to deliver the full experience.

"It's a compelling story, and the journey the students go on is pretty remarkable," Dixon said.

"A Piece of My Heart" will run 7:30 p.m. Oct. 18-21 and 4 p.m. Oct. 22 in Dresier Theater, 221 N. Sixth St.

Tickets are $10 for general admission. Rush tickets (free) are offered to students 90 minutes before the show.

Reservations are not accepted. To purchase tickets, call the ticket office at 812-237-3334. The New Theater ticket office will be open 12-4:30 p.m. Monday, Oct.16-Friday, Oct. 20. The Dreiser ticket office will be open one hour before each performance.


Photos: -- Indiana State students Morgan Vaclavik, right, and Tristan Crutchfield star in "A Piece of My Heart." (Jonathan Garcia/Indiana State University) -- From left, Indiana State students Kaitie Moore stars as Sissy and Tristan Crutchfield is Rory in the upcoming production of "A Piece of My Heart," which runs Oct. 18-22 in Dreiser Theater. (Jonathan Garcia/Indiana State University) -- From left, Indiana State University students Kaitie Moore stars as Sissy, Peighton Emmert is MaryJo, Morgan Vaclavik is Whitney and Jo Garcia-Reger is LeeAnn in the upcoming production of "A Piece of My Heart." (Jonathan Garcia/Indiana State University)

Writer: Antonio Turner, media relations assistant, Office of Communications and Marketing, or 812-237-3773

Media Contact: Julie Dixon, associate professor of theater, Indiana State University, or 812-237-3339