Arts in the Armed Forces (AITAF) will hold its 6th Annual Veterans Day event in honor of the United States Armed Forces on Monday night, Nov. 10, at Studio 54 in N.Y., with a reading of Stephen Adly Guirgis’ Our Lady of 121st Street. Girls’ Adam Driver, Marine and AITAF founder, and Listen Up Phillip’s Joanne Tucker, AITAF artistic director, are hosting and producing the event.
“From the moment I first read the play, I saw both the people I served with and the military community as a whole in its characters,” Driver wrote in an email. “It’s filled with a diverse collection of personalities, bonded by their circumstances—they are all mourning the loss of a prominent leader in their small community, which is a theme I feel will very much resonate with a military audience.”
He added: “The play is also aggressive, unsentimental, and colloquial, which I think will upend any preconceived stereotypes that may exist within a section of the military community that theater is lightweight and inaccessible.”
Sam Gold is directing the reading, which will be performed by Francois Battiste, Desmin Borges, Guy Boyd, Phillip James Brannon, Salvatore Inzerillo, Justin Long, Adrian Martinez, Armando Riesco, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Amy Ryan, Samira Wiley, and Tucker.
For Driver, the cause is highly personal. Following his time in the service, he turned to the arts. “Having been exposed to theater in my post-military life, I know what a powerful tool for self-expression it can be,” Driver wrote. “In my platoon, I often saw how violence came from those who couldn’t express themselves and regretted that the people I served with weren’t made aware that language can be as valuable a tool as the rifle on their shoulder. If people take nothing else from Monday’s event other than that, I’ll consider it a huge success.”
Tickets are free for active duty and veteran servicemen and women and their families (18+), $200 for those with no military affiliation (reserve and purchase tickets at aitaf.bpt.me). Proceeds will benefit AITAF’s holiday tour to U.S. bases in Japan and Korea next month.