Return To War

Return To War

Play reminds that peace still elusive

Ten years has passed since TheatreSquared debuted “My Father’s War,” an original play by company founder Bob Ford based on the World War II recollections of his father-in-law.

“There’s a lot of emotion around this play — it had such a profound impact on me as an actor, as a daughter, and as an citizen of this country,” says Amy Herzberg, Ford’s wife and the daughter of Art Herzberg. “Watching my dad encounter this play taught me so much about the power of theater and the power of recollected memory, but even more about the experience of teen-aged boys thrown into extreme, absurdly violent circumstances — how they behave — how it affects them.

“It was also an important moment for Bob and for TheatreSquared,” she adds, “to discover the potential of growing an amazing piece of theater from the ground up. We’d never felt anything like it.”

“It was an important part of T2’s evolution — the first play that T2 both developed and premiered,” Ford agrees, and the journey didn’t end with the production in 2008.

“We’ve been having a great ride with this play, with staged readings in New York, DC, and in Germany and the UK. We participated in an Italian production (in Italian) at the Festival Internazionale Valle Christi. What a blast that was!”

So when a friend suggested Ford and Herzberg remount the play as a staged reading, they were beyond open to the opportunity.

“Our good friend Tod Yeslow is active with Temple Shalom in Fayetteville, and he pitched the idea of producing a staged reading of ‘My Father’s War’ as a fundraiser for the temple,” Ford explains. “Amy and I leapt at the chance to do a reading, especially on the 10th anniversary of the original production at TheatreSquared.

“We’re pretty thrilled to have four of the original five actors returning for the reading,” he adds, “Justin Scheuer, Jason Engstrom, Abbey Molyneux O’Bryan and, of course, Amy. They’ll be joined by the splendid Bryce Kemph, a T2 regular.”

Herzberg says her dad is “thrilled.”

“In the decade since T2 premiered ‘My Father’s War,’ my dad has received a gratifying number of accolades, all growing out of his World War II experience,” she says. “He visited the new World War II Memorial in DC with other veterans, was honored several times in his hometown of Phoenix, got interviewed on TV a few times. But I don’t think anything’s ever matched the experience of having his son-in-law write a play that vividly captures his experience in the Army infantry, the memories, the profound lessons. So it’s a chance for him and my mom to revisit a truly lovely and moving chapter in their lives.”

Ford believes the play still has plenty to say in 2018.

“We still tend to vilify people — for coming from another place, for having a certain background, being across the battlefield from us,” he says. “We’re still at war, one we were in 10 years ago. We still forget lessons long-since learned by our grandmothers and grandfathers — the cost of war, for one. We forget the countless lives that might have been. Yet, collectively, we still value connection and intelligence and friendship and love. That’s what I think. And that’s what I hope the play still addresses.”



‘My Father’s War’

WHEN — 7 p.m. Feb. 17

WHERE — Temple Shalom, 699 N. Sang Ave. in Fayetteville

COST — Sold out



Categories: Cover Story