Memorials to the Missing: A Radio Play Touches the Heart of Every Soldier
On Feb. 27, there was not a dry eye in ODU’s University Theater as the theater department put on a performance of the award-winning play “Memorials to the Missing: A Radio Play” written by Stephen Wyatt, directed by Konrad Winters. The production was in collaboration with the University department of history’s Remembering World War I: A Hundredth Anniversary Commemoration.
Originally set after the Imperial War, the audience is taken back to the 19th century. Sir Fabian Ware was described as “the most interesting and memorable character,” actress Mayteana Colon said.
Ware was determined in his efforts to get grave stones to all the fallen soldiers who died in combat while making efforts to get Red Cross services for soldiers and also, to have a memorial built for the missing.
This is known as a “radio based” play, and director Konrad Winters had a few things to say about the difficulties surrounding the production.
“I found it to be a real challenge because this is not something we’ve done at ODU. We’ve never done a radio play before. At first, I thought it was going to be fairly simple, but after getting into it, I found out how complex it really is to have live and prerecorded sounds to go through. Unfortunately, we do not have the rights to the play, so it has to stay as it is as a stage play,” Winters said.
Some of the obstacles General Ware had to face included singing interludes, voices of the ghost of fallen soldiers and heartbreaking soliloquies. The overall mood of the play was melancholy with a hint of hope and determination which swept through the crowd like wildfire.
During the play, many question were raised such as whether the soldiers in the front lines deserved graves, a treatment that was only given to officers of high ranking. If graves were actually needed, what shape should they be in? If it were to be crosses to appease the Christians, what about soldiers of other religions?
This play showed the often unrecognized work behind making what we refer to as a common grave marker. General Ware said, however, “Without them, the missing will go missing again.” The oppressors never stopped trying to waver Ware’s uphill battle.
There were several other storylines throughout the play. For example, a young lady named Alice, played by Colon, who was looking for the grave of her brother and did everything she could to find him.
“I fell in love with the nurse. Her singing was so full of emotion. I loved everything about it,” ODU student Eden Alemayehu said.
The nurse, also played by Colon, was trying to help identify the missing and her lost cousin. She had no clue whether he was dead or alive. The younger brother’s voice is one of the “ghosts” heard by the audience, revealing he is indeed dead. She had no body, however, to prove her darkest fear.
The voice of the brother and the nurse’s missing cousin not only speak for themselves, but for every lost or forgotten soldier who deserves to be recognized for their valiant fight. They know everything they fought for wasn’t in vain.
The play ended with a beautiful song sung by the entire cast for the outstanding feat accomplished by General Ware, in memoriam to every soldier who was ever unjustly and disrespectfully laid to rest.