This weekend’s performance of “Homeboys” in the Frieze’s Arena Theater will not only provide audiences with a unique perspective on veterans of the Vietnam War, but it’ll also feature a post-show treat. The playwright, John Lordan, will give a talk afterward and also take questions from the audience.

Jess Cox
The cast of Homeboys rehearses at the Arena Theater.
(CAITLIN KLEIBOER/Daily)

“The author’s being there pushes the value of this performance beyond theater,” said director Whitney Dibo, who is also an Opinion columnist for the Daily. “Writers of all kinds, not just aspiring playwrights, can learn about marketing their work and the professional’s writing process.”

The play follows three grown boyhood friends. Joe, home for eight years from Vietnam, has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer from exposure to Agent Orange, a highly toxic herbicide.

Gathered together in a garage, the boys talk about their different experiences with the war, or, for the conscientious objector among them, around it. It’s not a play about the war itself, but rather the relationships it has affected and the confrontation of, in Lordan’s words, the “disinterested pillory of history.”

“It’s a very politically charged show,” Dibo said, “not artsy-fartsy like a lot of the other Basement shows. It’s not only for the average drama or English student, but also for the average biologist or the average engineer.” The strong voice it provides soldiers who the United States sends off to fight makes it an obvious choice for Veteran’s Day weekend.

Unlike many basement shows, “Homeboys” has been staged only a few times. “It hasn’t gotten the critical acclaim that it deserves,” Dibo said, but she said she thinks the Basement will be a great venue for it. With limited space in the Arena, shows like this one that take place in just one room tend to fit very well.

The play has a definite American backbone, bringing Lordan’s contemplative characters to life for those who might feel the prick of patriotism this weekend.

 

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