SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The physical and psychological traumas of war take center stage this weekend at the New Vic in Santa Barbara. "Last Out Elegy of a Green Beret" is a military tribute, a gut-wrenching love story to all who have served and sacrificed for our country -- and their families.
"It's a one act play, a 90-minute white knuckle ride on what it feels like to go through the longest war in our nation's history," said Scott Mann, Founder and Director of The Heroes Journey.
Mann, a retired army lieutenant colonel and former green beret, wrote and stars in the traveling production as Master Sgt. Danny Patton. He and his wife founded The Heroes Journey, a non profit dedicated to helping warriors find their voice and tell their story.
In "Last Out," the audience is taken through the odyssey of Patton's life and death; the ghosts of theater warfare lingering, often, through generations of families.
"It informs citizens on the cost of war, it validates our warriors and their family members," Mann said. "They can see their life on stage unfold. It connects communities in ways that we haven't done in a long time."
The cast is made up of four combat veterans and a military family member and the entire production crew is actively part of The Heroes Journey.
Ame Livingston directs and acts, taking on the role of several characters including Lynn, Patton's wife, giving a voice to military spouses.
"A lot of people, 'Oh, it's a play about war.' It's not. It's a play about love. It's a play about sacrifice. It's a play about connection and disconnection. There is something in this play for every single person," Livingston said.
The main prop is a large, wooden bookshelf; a living shrine, packed with authentic military mementos.
"Gold star moms and gold star wives come up and put something on the wall from their loved one," Mann explained. "And we have civilians who say 'Can I put a shell casing from my grandfather's funeral who served from WWII?'"
The local performance is the only one so far on the west coast, wrapping up the crew's 2019, 16-city tour season in Santa Barbara. The cast and production crew will take a month off before launching the 2020 tour.
"What this play does is give you perspective on war and the cost of war, unlike anything I've every experienced," said Kymberlee Weil.
Weil and her husband, Mark Sylvester, are hosting the Santa Barbara production.
"This is not just a play, it's combat story-telling," Mann said. "It's told by the men and women who lived it. It's not pro-war. It's not anti-war. It's storytelling about a very difficult thing which is modern war. You leave a bit more whole. I think a bit more healed, a bit more connected to those who gave so much."
The performance morphs into a workshop, of sorts, allowing the cast and audience to interact. Trained psychologists are also on hand afterwards, to help those in the audience suffering from post traumatic stress (PTS).
Two performances are scheduled this weekend. For ticket information click here.
For more information about "Last Out: Elegy of a Green Beret", you can click here.
For more information about "The Heroes Journey", click here.