By Phillip Milano
The trials and tribulations of home life after wartime expressed in the upcoming one-act comedies “Laundry and Bourbon” and “Lonestar” are giving JU theater students a chance to connect the past to the present, says director Deborah Jordan, an assistant professor of theatre arts.
“Some of these students do not even remember the Vietnam War,” she said. “So it’s a history lesson. This is opening their eyes to what happens to lives and relationships after war. They’ve been able to see parallels with the Afghanistan War, which helps them relate.”
“Laundry and Bourbon” and “Lonestar” run from Feb. 21 through March 3 in the Swisher Theater at Jacksonville University. The plays, written by James McLure, take place in the ‘70s and are described as “good ole boy and gal” comedies that act as bookends, telling the tale of Vietnam veteran Roy as he returns home from battle. Infidelity, unplanned pregnancy, holding onto the past, alcoholism, life changes and much more are treated with humor and insight.
Jordan said the two “kitchen sink” plays use humor to probe the difficulties of returning home, from the perspective of the soldiers and from the loved ones left behind.
“You see how three women in the first play and then three men in the next, who are interconnected, respond to their situations,” Jordan said. “The students are learning what it’s like to be around people who dislike change, want to live in the past, but who must adapt to move on.”
The characters in the plays are from small Texas towns, and a number of the students taking part are from small towns as well. That has helped them identify with aspects of the characters as they rehearse, Jordan added.
“Laundry and Bourbon” stars sophomore theater major Ashley Jones, senior theater major Katarina Howell and senior theater major Elaine Tyson. “Lonestar” brings senior theater major Nick Boucher, senior computer animation major Roy Matos and junior theater major David Bilbray to the stage.
Two of the male leads who portray brothers in “Lonestar” are roommates and best friends in real life, which has aided their rehearsals, Jordan noted, while some of the female actors have had an “interesting” time trying to nail the “Texas twang” of their characters.
“I’ve seen lots of progress,” Jordan said. “It’s been a challenging ride to get those hard-Rs right.”
“Laundry and Bourbon” and “Lonestar” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 21, 22 and 23 and March 1 and 2, and at 2:30 p.m. March 3, at Swisher Theater at Jacksonville University, 2800 University Blvd. N. Ticket prices are Adults: $10, Seniors (62+): $7, Military: $7, Students: $5, Children under 17: $5, and JU employees: Free (per ID). For more information and tickets, call (904) 256-7349.