QHS theater students dig deep to tell story from Vietnam War

Quincy HIgh School cast members of the upcoming play “A Piece of My Heart” look over a photo of local Vietnam War veteran Rick Bybee, standing at top, during his time overseas during a question-and-answer session Friday afternoon. (H-W Photo/Phil Carlson)
Posted: Feb. 9, 2013 6:26 pm Updated: Feb. 24, 2013 1:15 am

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

Quincy High School theatre teacher Meghan Buckley wants to make sure her students get to know their subject matter. For the upcoming winter play, "A Piece of My Heart," Buckley has given her students more than enough background material on the Vietnam War.

Over the past few weeks, she's had one of the school's history teachers lecture the class on the Vietnam War. She had drill sergeants come in to teach the students. On Friday, Buckley invited a group of five veterans from the Vietnam War to tell students their story about the war.

"We want to be genuine," Buckley said. "We want it to be as authentic as possible. We don't want to tell a story, we want to share a story."

The students will share a story centered around six Vietnam War nurses in "A Piece of My Heart."

The actors have enjoyed getting to dig deeper into their subject matter.

"This is the first play that I've ever done that we've had so many people come to teach us," senior Mackenzie Johnston said. "Mrs. Buckley talks so much about really wanting to do the play justice."

"Since we're getting so in depth with our characters and the Vietnam War, we're all becoming more connected with our characters and we're becoming more connected to the show, more than we would to any musical or any other play," senior Kara Bainter said.

Jay Stalder said a "boot camp" that was held a few weeks ago figures to be especially useful.

"There is a lot of marching, saluting, and orders be called out, so it was nice to hear them do that," the senior said of the group's time with the drill sergeants. "Those sort of things haven't changed too much (since the Vietnam War). That was really helpful to be properly coached through some of those things."

This is the first time in a while that students have been able to go so in-depth prior to a show. Buckley said that previous two winter productions haven't lent themselves to getting to know the subject matter like this one has.

"A Piece of My Heart" was written by Shirley Lauro. It tracks six nurses, their struggles in the war and their life after the conflict.

On Friday, the cast listened intently as the veterans sat a tables across from them to tell them what life was really like during the conflict. That extra knowledge will help the students come show time.

"Putting a face with the story, knowing these are real people, will help me even more," Johnston said.