“Voices Project 4” puts veterans at center stage

by | Nov 10, 2022 | Arts and Entertainment | 0 comments

From the left: Actors Erik Tuttle, Don Taco and Linda Cashin rehearse “LIttle Miracles,” by Christina White, one of the plays in “Veterans’ Voices Project 4.” The project, organized by Leigh Matthews Bock, will be performed Friday and Saturday at the Majestic Theatre. (Courtesy photo.)

Leigh Matthews Bock says that her series of “Veterans’ Voices Projects” productions combines two of her main passions — “honoring our veterans and storytelling.”

Bock, the director of “Veterans’ Voices Project 4,” scheduled for Friday afternoon and Saturday night at the Majestic Theatre, has been a staple of mid-valley theater since 2002. And, since 2013, she’s been active with South Willamette Valley Honor Flight, the nonprofit organization that takes World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans to Washington, D.C. to experience the memorials dedicated to their service and their fallen comrades. The trips are free to the veterans, who come from Benton, Linn, Lane and Lincoln counties.

During those trips, relaxing among the camaraderie of their peers, the veterans often would tell stories about their time in the service — stories that not even family members might have heard. Bock, who is not herself a veteran, would listen to the stories — and started to think about ways to share them.

That’s when her other passion, for theater, kicked in.

She enlisted the help of her theater colleagues to do that.

Bock connects veterans willing to share their stories with local playwrights she thinks will be good matches. Bock arms her playwrights with a list of questions they can use to help start a conversation flowing. The playwrights have about six weeks to finish their interviews and wrap up short plays based on the interviews.

A few days before the deadline for the writers to submit their plays, Bock assembles a cast, and she’s looking first and foremost for people who share her passion for veterans.

She keeps the final production simple, in “black box” style, with no costumes or props. The idea is to keep the focus squarely on the veterans’ stories, to give audience members a view of life in the service from the viewpoints of the men and women who donned the uniform and vowed to protect their country.

“Spending time with veterans and hearing their stories, has enriched my life and created an understanding for me about our veterans,” said Bock. “I want to share that same opportunity with our community.”

If You Go

WHAT: “Veterans’ Voices Project 4.

WHEN: Friday, Nov. 11 at 3 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 12 at 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: Majestic Theatre, 115 SW Second St., Corvallis.

HOW MUCH: Tickets are $11; veterans and active military members get in for free and can claim their free ticket at the Majestic box office on Friday from noon to 5 p.m. Click here for more ticket information.

DIRECTED BY: Leigh Matthews Bock.

ACTORS: Laura Blackwell, Gary Burris, Linda Cashin, Danita Hamel, Erah McMullen, Don Taco, Erik Tuttle and Chris Tavernia.

NOTE: Some of the plays include discussions of sexual assault, depictions of combat, profanity and violence.

The Plays

  • “September 3, 1967,” by Carley Hansen Prince
  • “Perimeters,” by Lauren Schaffner
  • “The Water Was Red,”  by Mike Pungercar
  • “Woman of the Year,” by Merridawn Duckler
  • “Little Miracles,” by Cristina White
  • “What a Man is Worth,” by Merridawn Duckler
  • “My Name is Marvin Black,”  by Mike Aronson
  • “Unconventional Veteran,” by Cherie Gullerud
  • “The Nature of Everything,” by Richard Poudrier

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