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APSU playright-in-residence to create and debut play about 101st in Iraq

On July 3, 2004, a play about the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) soldiers and families will make its world debut at Austin Peay.

Internationally acclaimed playwright Glyn OMalley, New York City, is calling for families, friends and soldiers of the 101st to contribute to the first play written about the war with Iraqone featuring stories of the famed Screaming Eagles and their families during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
On July 3, 2004, a play about the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) soldiers and families will make its world debut at Austin Peay.

Internationally acclaimed playwright Glyn O'Malley, New York City, is calling for families, friends and soldiers of the 101st to contribute to the first play written about the war with Iraqone featuring stories of the famed Screaming Eagles and their families during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

O'Malley will be APSU Playwright-in-Residence this summer. While at the University, he will create a play based on first-person accounts by soldiers of the 101st and their spouses, children, mothers, fathers and friends who stayed behind while they served in Iraq. The most intensive work on what is being dubbed “The 101st Project” will occur during the month of June.

However, O'Malley is coming to Clarksville in May for a special meeting with community members, especially the 101st families and soldiers, as well as anyone interested in being involved in the play as an actor, researcher, musician or visual artist or in associated preparatory workshops.

Those who are interested in being part of this historical project are asked to attend the meeting with O'Malley slated for 6:30 p.m., Thursday, May 20 in APSU's Trahern Theatre.

Speaking of his vision of The 101st Project, O'Malley says that the play will examine the impact of the war in Iraq on the hopes, fears and wishes of family and friends left behind, as well as on the Screaming Eagles, who spent months in Iraq.

“I hope it will be a story of the heroism of our U. S. soldiers in Iraq and the courage of those they leave behind when they deploy from Fort Campbell,” he says. “A portrait of their sacrifices, inevitable adjustments, loneliness, duty, participation in a country's liberation, the excitement of their homecoming and, ultimately, a tribute to their fallen comrades.”

The 101st Project is not O'Malley's first portrait of war. His first play, “Concertina's Rainbow,” examined genocide during the Holocaust and the Bosnian War. Selected as one of five finalists in the Mentor Project 2001 at New York's Cherry Lane Theatre, it was the hit of the 2001 season.

“Paradise,” his second war play, which won the 2002 Lazarus New Play Prize for Young Audiences at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, premieres in New York City in October and then opens in Miami. O'Malley says, “By examining the intersection of the lives of a 17-year-old female Palestinian suicide bomber and her 17-year-old Israeli victim, this controversial play looks deep inside the Mideast conflict.”

Other O'Malley plays also have premiered in New York City—at the Lincoln Center, Playwrights Horizons, Epic Repertory Theater Company—as well as in cities across Europe.

O'Malley, who has directed extensively in New York City, American regional theatres and in Europe, was associate producer at Vienna's renowned English Theatre, where he premiered Edward Albee's Pulitzer Prize-winner, “Three Tall Women.” Additionally, he has directed such major talent as Rue McClanahan, Larry Hagman and Linda Gray.

In 2003, O'Malley was awarded The Last Frontier Theatre Conference Award for his work, “Albee's Men,” and was honored by Yale University for “Paradise” at a Yale “Master's Tea.” Among other honors, he was a recipient of a New York Foundation of the Arts Fellowship and a Jerome Foundation Grant.

He was nominated for the PEN American's “Newman's Own First Amendment Award,” which recognizes the defense of free speech as it applies to the written word. He has appeared on many television shows, such as Fox's “The O'Reilly Factor” and on National Public Radio. His play “Paradise” was the topic of articles in more than 1,400 newspapers worldwide, including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and The Chicago Tribune.

A member of PEN American's Freedom-to-Write Committee and The Dramatist Guild of America and the New Play Lab director at The Last Frontier Theatre Conference, O'Malley is on the theatre faculty of Lehman College/CUNY.

With the impending launch of “Paradise,” in October, O'Malley has turned his attention and considerable talent to The 101st Project, which will be born in Clarksville but has the potential to be presented anywhere at any time, because, as he says, “It deals with an age-old theme in dramathe human condition during war.”

For more information about the May 20 meeting with O'Malley, contact Dr. Sara Gotcher, associate professor of theatre, at 6259 or gotchers@apsu.edu. For information about the play, contact O'Malley at THE101stPROJECT@aol.com.
—Dennie Burke