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‘Band of Brooders’ and ‘Abstinence Only’ Explore Why Americans March Off to War

Band of Brooders
Band of Brooders

The mystery of why Americans constantly march off to war is as confounding as the question of why we cling to our puritanism. These conundrums are explored in “Band of Brooders” and “Abstinence Only,” two short plays by Jim Pangrazio, directed by Jason Hale, to be presented August 29 to September 2 in The First Floor Theater, 74A East Fourth Street as part of Summer Shares at La MaMa. Together, the plays illuminate the restrictions in our own society that repress us more than outside forces ever could.

“Band of Brooders” is loosely based on the Patrick Tillman incident of 2004 and presents the conflicting reasons why some Americans chose to fight in today’s wars and the consequences to them. Four Army Rangers in a remote area of Afghanistan anxiously await their evacuation from a recon assignment. The recent loss of one of their squad forces them to come to terms with their experiences and face the reality that they are engaged in an unjust war. Discord in the squad over their mission reveals personal impulses for each soldier’s actions that lie disturbingly far from the battlefield. The play is performed by Burnie Du Rant Jr., Kristin Fireman, Eduardo Asunsolo and Eamon Speer.

“Abstinence Only” questions the severe limitations on personal freedom in a country that claims to be free. An intruder has entered a NYC studio apartment where two psychology students were having a one-night tryst, robbing them and binding them together naked. Their evening becomes a chaotic struggle as they fear the exposure of calling for help. The play is acted by Shay Hannon, Nick Mahoney and Christian Caldwell..

Jim Pangrazio (playwright) has had a career in the printing industry and as a news writer. He was drafted into the US Army 1968 and served primarily in Germany. He later graduated from U. of Connecticut with degree in philosophy. He did some work with the Nucleo Eclettico, a very active theater group in Boston, in the 70’s and 80’s, and continued to work with Marco Zarattini, founder of the Nucleo, in the following years. Pangrazio became interested in playwriting with the encouragement of Zarattini after observing him stage a play at Boston U. in 2006. “Band of Brooders” was written with much guidance from Zarattini. Pangrazio’s play “FreeDumb” was staged at the Palazzo Casotti (Regio Emilia Italy) in April 2011. A staged reading of his play, “On Top of Mount Zion,” was held at the Kraine Theater, NYC in March 2012. A workshop production of “Band of Brooders” and “Abstinence Only” was mounted at the 45th Street Theater in May, 2012.

This production is his NY stage debut.

Band of Brooders by Jim Pangrazio is loosely based on the Patrick Tillman incident of 2004 and presents the conflicting reasons why some Americans chose to fight in the recent wars and their consequences. LR: Burnie Du Rant Jr., Kristin Fireman, Eamon Speer. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

Jason Hale (director) most recently directed an acclaimed production of Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie” at the National Turkish State Theater in Ankara. It is currently touring Turkey and has been selected to be performed at the Sabanci International Theatre Festival in Adana and Istanbul. Hale has directed Off and Off- Off Broadway and at regional theatres in the U.S. and internationally. He worked for many years as an assistant to director John Uecker and as a personal assistant writer James Purdy. He assisted Mr. Uecker during the 1996 world premiere production of Tennessee Williams’ later short plays, “The Traveling Companion” and “The Chalky White Substance.” He went on to direct and co-produce several rarely produced Tennessee Williams plays at various theaters in NYC. He is also a prolific teacher of the Viola Spolin technique of improvisation and used the technique as the basis for actor training at the Theatre Project Ensemble, a New York City non-profit theater company he co-founded. As a teacher of acting, he has taught at NYU, Stella Adler Studio of Acting, School of Visual Arts, Antioch University, HB Studios, New Actors Workshop, and guest teaches in Mexico and Turkey. He is a member of SDC and an actor. (www.jasonhale.net)

Performances are from August 29 to September 2, 2012 at The First Floor Theater, 74A East Fourth Street (Summer Shares at La MaMa). The play is produced by Nucleo Eclectico Theatre, a Denis Diderot Production. Tickets are $25; students and seniors $20. Show times are Wednesday to Friday at 8:00 PM; Saturday and Sunday at 3:00 PM and 8:00 PM (7 performances only). The box office is SMARTTIX, www.smarttix.com,or 212-868-4444. The show’s website is www.bandofbrooders.com.

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