LJHS's ‘Piece of My Heart’ Reflects on Another Side of War

The La Jolla High School Theater Department will put on three presentations of “A Piece of My Heart,” a chronicle of the lives of Vietnam USO officers, nurses and Red Cross volunteers.

When many people think of Veterans Day, it is often the armed servicemen who immediately come to mind. The truth, however, is that there are many others who give their service and their lives, who can be overlooked. A Piece of My Heart is a chronicle of the lives of these quiet soldiers. The USO workers, the military nurses, and the Red Cross volunteers. The members of the La Jolla High School Drama Department will proudly be presenting this play, which is based on a true story, to the public this week.

The play, which was originally written by Shirley Lauro, has become popular over the decades as a portrayal of life during and after the Vietnam War. It follows the lives of six women who served in the war as nurses, USO officers and volunteers. In its official playbill, A Piece of My Heart is described as “the true stories of six courageous women sent to Vietnam and their struggles to make sense of a war that irrevocably changed them and a nation that shunned them.” The play begins and ends at the dedication of the Vietnam War Memorial in 1982, travelling back to the tumultuous and life-changing 1960s and 1970s.

“I have a lot of boys and girls, both intermediate and advanced, in my classes who all wanted to perform this as soon as they read it,” play director and head of La Jolla High Drama Department Ann Lyon-Boutelle said. “We’re still fighting a war now, and this is a story we all wanted to bring about.”

The members of the drama department have been preparing for the presentation for more than five weeks. A total of 15 students act in the play, with many other hands going toward lighting, production and more. Students Lea Papas, Hallie Bodenstab, Amy Geurtz, Savannah Viser, Truly Bailey and Ashley Stratton each represent several women who were drastically impacted by war. The play also incorporates all of the tremendous changes in the US in the time during and after the Vietnam War, including everything from music and politics to women’s rights.

“Young people are so distanced from the war today; I wanted them to talk about it.” Lyon-Boutelle said. “The Vietnam War was such an explosive time in US history, this story is a well-written drama, it’s well-acted and it’s thought provoking. “

The opening show of A Piece of My Heart is at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov.13 at La Jolla High School. The fee for the first show is a suggested donation of $1.

Other show performances take place on Thursday, Nov. 15 through Saturday, Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. During those shows, any active or retired military members receive free admission. Adults are $10, seniors are $8, students are $6 with an ID and $7 without.


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