ORLANDO, Feb. 10, 2012 — Army Gen. Omar Bradley once said we know “more about killing than we know about living” – an observation that Theatre UCF tries to reverse during its next production, a wartime saga of opportunities lost and lessons learned.
Bury the Dead, an anti-war story by Irwin Shaw, will be presented Feb. 16-26 in the campus’ Black Box theatre. Even though several major wars have been fought in the decades since the play opened on Broadway in 1936, the play focuses on old themes that are still relevant.
While the play is anti-war, the director did not want it to be anti-military. Those involved with the production are raising awareness and funds to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project, which provides help for injured service members as they return to civilian life in the community.
“Everyone in the cast knows someone serving in the military. We support and honor these soldiers,” said director and Associate Professor Mark Brotherton. “All the soldiers [in the play] have passed on and are young, and there are a lot of things they say they didn’t take notice of in life – things we see that pass us by.”
The play portrays six dead soldiers who stand up in their makeshift graves and refuse to be buried. As they express their anguish and the futility of war, they don’t want to give up their hold on the past and future.
To prepare for the play, Brotherton asked the cast members to watch movies about war and the military. They were shown military movements by a member of the cast who is in ROTC. They also met with a wounded returning soldier and his wife to discuss the effects of war on their lives.
“We had a master sergeant come to talk with us,” Brotherton said. “He talked about the camaraderie, and he made a wonderful statement about war that meant a lot to the cast. He said that when he goes there [into battle], ‘It doesn’t mean I agree or disagree with the war. My job is to get my men home.’”
The cast of 29 is using the play as a way to reach out into the community.
They have started an online donation page to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project (https://support.woundedwarriorproject.org/individual-fundraising/ucfbtd/). Students are hosting an information table at Market Day on Wednesdays outside the Student Union, and they will collect donations from patrons during the Bury the Dead intermission.
Before the Feb. 23 performance, there will be a 6:40 p.m. discussion with organizations that help veterans. The benefit and discussion are being organized by students Karlyn Muzik and Kimberly Carolus.
Although most of the play is somber, it is not all about death.
“It gives more reasons for living than it talks about dying,” Brotherton said. “They don’t come back to say that war is bad. They come to say what we should watch for in life.”
Theatre UCF’s Black Box production of Bury the Dead will run Thursdays through Sundays, Feb. 16-26. Shows begin at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday. For tickets and other information contact the box office at 407-823-1500.