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Griffin Theatre Company to present 'Letters Home' Nov. 19

RELEASED: Nov. 3, 2009

The Griffin Theatre Company actorsEAU CLAIRE — The Griffin Theatre Company of Chicago will present "Letters Home" Nov. 19 at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. The Artists Series performance will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Zorn Arena.

In "Letters Home" a cast of seven men and three women brings to life actual letters written by soldiers serving in the Middle East. "The 90-minute work is an emotionally wrenching tapestry of the letters (often the final correspondence) exchanged between American troops deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, and their families and loved ones back home," wrote the Chicago Sun Times.

The production was inspired by The New York Times series "The Things They Wrote" and the subsequent HBO documentary "Last Letters Home," and also uses correspondence from several books by Frank Schaeffer. Without politicizing, the play gives audiences a powerful portrait of the soldier experience in the ongoing war. The initial 2007 production was critically acclaimed and nominated for a Joseph Jefferson Award for Outstanding New Play. It has continued as a national touring project ever since, incorporating new correspondence to keep it current.

The letters heard in "Letters Home" were written under the most difficult of circumstances — the disorientation of training, deployment, separation from family and loved ones, combat, and occupation duties in Afghanistan and Iraq. One theme seems to unite the diverse voices: the belief that the person standing beside you is more important than you are. The letters also help define patriotism and what it means to serve the United States today, through acts of bravery, compassion, social responsibility, sense of community and brotherhood. The production gives a voice to a generation that went to war for reasons that are still being debated, and reveals the humanity that lies within the war through the words of those fighting it.

Minimal props and set pieces dramatize the letters. To enhance the theatrical experience of the play, the performance will be followed by a post-play discussion.

Celebrating its 20th season, the Griffin Theatre Company is a not-for-profit professional theatre company that instills an appreciation of the performing arts. Headed by artistic directors Richard A. Barletta and William J. Massolia, the company creates extraordinary and meaningful theatrical experiences for children and adults by building bridges of understanding between generations.

Tickets are $17 for the public, $15 for those 62 and older and UW System or Chippewa Valley Technical College faculty and staff, or $7 for those 17 and younger and UW System or CVTC students. Tickets for students are half-price, $3.50, up until the day of the event. On the day of the event, students must pay the full student-ticket price. In honor of the nature of this event, those who show proof of past or current military service will receive one free ticket to the performance.

Patrons also may charge their tickets to MasterCard or Visa when ordering by phone. Call 715-836-3727 or, outside the immediate Eau Claire area, 800-949-UWEC. A $3 handling fee will be added to all telephone charge orders.

The Artists Series is supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the state of Wisconsin. The series also is funded in part by Visit Eau Claire ... The Unexpected Wisconsin. Griffin Theatre Company also is supported by the Performing Arts Fund, a program of Arts Midwest, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional contributions were made by the Wisconsin Arts Board, General Mills Foundation and Land O'Lakes Foundation. Wisconsin Public Radio, WHYS Radio and Community Television have contributed generous promotional support. Best Western Trail Lodge Hotel & Suites (715-838-9989) at 3340 Mondovi Road is the exclusive accommodations partner for the Artists Series.

Funded by the students of UW-Eau Claire, the Artists Series is administered by the Activities and Programs office of the University Centers.

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JS/DW

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