‘Women and War’ brings forth heartfelt emotions

Written by Noah Cervantes, Staff Writer

Rio Hondo featured a new one act play entitled Women and War” on Nov. 11 and 12 at the Campus Inn Theater in part of the Veteran’s Week celebrations held on campus.

Written by Jack Hilton Cunningham and directed by Gabriel Carrasco, “Women and War’s” main focus of the play was to portray the different women’s connection to the military throughout some of the country’s worst wars throughout time.

The play’s program claims “these are tales of sacrifice, love, determination and hope told by women who bravely persevere on the home front and on the battlefield.”

Megan Di Maggio and Alfonso Carlos played the memorable couple Betsy and Jack in the one-act play.
Noah Cervantes/El Paisano
Megan Di Maggio and Alfonso Carlos played the memorable couple Betsy and Jack in the one-act play.

The majority of the play was told by five different groups representing different eras in American military history. Characters “speak” to their families and friends through dated letters sent to and from distant battlefields

A young couple named Helen and Buddy talk about starting a family and finally see each other as Buddy serves in Europe during World War II. What starts out as friendly love letters and a simple ‘I’m thinking of you’, soon turns into frightened warnings as Buddy slowly loses hope about experiencing a quick allied victory.

Also part of the Great War are Betsy and Jack. Betsy is a wife working hard to make sure their children are fed and help keep hope alive back at home while Jack serves as a pilot. Through increasingly sporadic letters, Betsy hears less and less of her husband but still clings on to hope.

The heartbreaking pinnacle moment appears to the audience when she receives an official announcement of Jack’s death from the government, creating one of the most memorable scenes of Women and War”.

Megan Di Maggio does a fantastic job of portraying a heartbroken wife on stage and shows the very real and grim side to war that many have had the misfortune to experience.

In another scene, Agnes and Johnny are a couple communicating during the 1950s in the heat of the Korean War. Johnny wishes nothing more than to come home to his wife and young son. Johnny, trying to stay positive for his wife while actually being terrified himself, communicates to the audience the gravity of all the trauma he has been exposed to.

The Vietnam War also plays a large part in the social message given by the play. It’s expressed that while a sense of duty is to be respected, there is also no shame in feeling scared while doing so.

RHC student Jerry Ugarte played a Vietnam marine in Women and War”. His character articulated all the worry that most soldiers must have had experienced at the time. The Marine quickly goes from excitement to concern, followed by complete despair. His letters to his off-stage mother progressively become much more depressing as the weight of the war finally falls on him.

Marcela Rodriguez acted as a pseudo-narrator in the play held in the Campus Inn Theater.
Noah Cervantes/El Paisano
Marcela Rodriguez acted as a pseudo-narrator in the play held in the Campus Inn Theater.

Ugarte’s character however finally meets a gruesome end, told through a letter his mother would never get to read. After his phenomenal performance, Urgarte said the cast of Women and War” had been rehearsing the one act play since mid-October. Ugarte has been in several other productions at Rio including Don’t Drink the Water” and As You Like It”.

Following Urgate’s scene, a female soldier tethers all of the separate stories to modern day issues and speaks directly to the crowd rather than to a family member in letters. After the attack of 9/11 she served in Afghanistan and came back stateside as a double amputee.

The Afghanistan veteran talked about her own personal story but also conveyed to the audience current statistics about women in the military and how women have always played a critical role in military settings.

The play concluded with a funeral for both Jack and the Vietnam soldier in which all the characters gather to mourn and pay their respects. Final feelings of melancholy, gratitude, confusion, respect, and even happiness emanate from the last few minutes.

The intimate setting provided by the Campus Inn Theater allowed the actors emotions to really come through and affect the audience.

Immediately following the closing scene of the play someone in the crowd could be heard saying “the feels” (slang term for something or someone being in an emotional state), thus making Women and War” a very stirring and emotional production.