The consequences of war in Soldier’s Daughter

BY NINA EARNEST | JULY 14, 2011 7:20 AM

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Soldier’s Daughter is not performed on a stage. Instead, its actors lead the audience throughout a country farm — from the farmhouse to the pond and fields and even a pirate ship.

And as the last in Dreamwell Theatre’s “War and Consequences” series, the play asks viewers to examine the effects of combat on those left behind.

“This is looking at an individual soldier,” said Matt Falduto, the director and cowriter of the play. “And even more so, the impact it’s had on a child.”

Dreamwell Theatre will perform Soldier’s Daughter 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Country Camp Farm, 3418 Osage St. Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, and $8 for students.

The audience follows the actors throughout the farm to hear the story of 13-year-old Tigerlily.

Tigerlily, while waiting for her father to return from his tour in Afghanistan, falls asleep on the porch praying he can finally stay home. When she awakes, her soldier father is there to take her on a story walk around the farm.

Falduto said the play — the first produced as a promenade-style performance — is an ideal ending to the company’s “War and Consequences” series.

“It’s very timely right now. We’ve been at war for 10 years now,” he said. “It’s definitely something we need to look at a little bit and the effect it has on our children.”

He developed the play with the Black Doggers, an eastern Iowa playwrighting group. He said he was “blown away” by a promenade-style play he saw produced at the farm last summer. Falduto said he asked different members to write a short playlet, which would serve as a story a father could tell his daughter as they walked along to different locations.

Eventually, the drama evolved into the story of a soldier father and his daughter awaiting his return.
But Brian Tanner, play cowriter and the actor playing the soldier, said the story doesn’t delve into the horrors of war. Instead, the point of the play is to examine the ramifications for people back home.

“It’s that dilemma between obligations one has as a parent and one has to its country,” Tanner said.
John Crosheck, who plays Tiger, said the power behind the show is coming away with each lesson learned in the individual stories.

“It really builds from the first story walk to the last story walk as to what the daughter is coming to learn from her father,” Croscheck said.

Makayla Phillips, the 13-year-old actress taking on the Tigerlily role, said she initially had trouble showing the range of emotions in the drama. But after a while, she said, the character came more naturally.

“You can put yourself into the play and just do everything that she would do,” Phillips said.

Falduto said Phillips captured Tigerlily’s personality perfectly from the first reading.

Tanner said Phillips “jumped into the character with both feet.”

“It’s been helpful, because we have a pretty good rapport together and make those connections as a father and daughter,” Tanner said.

And Soldier’s Daughter lets the audience see the moments, both tender and funny, in their relationship.

“I’m personally a sucker for that sort of show or movie. I love to be able to laugh, but I’m a bit of a sap at heart,” Crosheck said. “I like to get a little misty before I’ve left the theater.”

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