“This is Ambo Land,” the reporter tells the audience at the outset of the play “How I Got That Story.”
“It’s not the safest place right now.”
He’s right. Writing the play in 1979, playwright Amlin Gray based his fictional Ambo Land on Vietnam, a place rife with military history.
Gray’s story of a place that’s “not the safest” isn’t the only one on display right now.
To help both the actors and the theater-goers understand the emotional impact experienced by the characters, Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company asked combat veterans to share their stories via posts on YouTube. Some of these clips air while audience members find their seats before the play, adding a sense of reality to what actors Brian Bielawski and Greg Watanabe are about to portray, and showing a sign of respect to veterans.
We’ve been following the play behind the scenes as Opening Night nears, watching as Mo’olelo makes an effort to include veterans groups in its preparations. The theater is known for making connections to communities that might not otherwise be inclined to attending theater, and this time veterans have been the focus.