Back House Productions presents
A New Play by ANNE NELSON
JULIE DANAO-SALKIN BRETT HOLLAND JIM HOWARD JAMES MATTHEW RYAN
Directed by CHRIS JORIE
Set Design: LAUREN HELPERN
Lighting Design: BETSY ADAMS
Costume Design: REBECCA BERNSTEIN
Sound Design: JILL BC DuBOFF
Properties: JO ANN VENEZIANO
Production Stage Manger: SALMONE B. WEISSMAN
Press Representative: JIM BALDASSARE
410 West 42nd Street (between Ninth & Tenth Avenues)
March 8 - April 1, 2006
Anne Nelson’s SAVAGES is an account from the Philippines-American War (1899-1914) and is based on the true story of Major Littleton Waller who was tried for war crimes in 1902.
From the playwright that brought us the complex and compassionate Off-Broadway hit “The Guys,” you would expect a full and multi-faceted treatment of this event, which was a major turning point in the course of Philippine history but merely a blip on the United States history radar screen. What you actually get is a masterpiece. As the work unfolds and in after-show discussions, you begin to realize just how consummate Nelson’s presentation of the past event is.
SAVAGES is an unbiased attempt to show all sides of war, and Nelson brings together the illogical reasoning for conflict, as well as the clashes between cultures, religions, regions, sexes, countries, military units, and almost any other category you can imagine. Each side and viewpoint is passionately positive that their cause is just and right. The war-weary Waller (James Matthew Ryan), the jaded General Chaffee (Jim Howard), and the neophyte Corporal Hanley (Brett Holland) bring to this war their belief systems, their morals, and their convictions that the Philippines will be better off because of them. The only real connection to the people they claim to be helping is the regal Maridol Amaya (Julie Danao-Salkin), and although her lone voice gives them pause, it is not strong enough to stop the course of history.
It is particularly harrowing to realize that we are still bringing something we deem valuable to “savages” in other countries/cultures whether they want it or not. Obviously, “savage” is in the eye of the beholder. And it is almost impossible not to draw correlations with our efforts in Vietnam and Iraq. Nelson paints a picture that is both embarrassing and painful to view, tempered by humor and the inevitable human bond. SAVAGES makes us ask if it is true that the past can predict the future, why is it that we refuse to learn from it.
- Laurie Lawson -