Through witty dialogue and poignant storytelling, the Community College of Rhode Island Players take an unconventional look at post-Vietnam life in rural America with their upcoming production of 1959 Pink Thunderbird.
Written by the late James McLure, 1959 Pink Thunderbird is a two-part play following the lives of a married couple from Maynard, TX, a small town of approximately 1,600 located 140 miles north of Austin.
1959 Pink Thunderbird premieres at CCRI’s Liston Campus beginning Thursday, December 12 at 7:30 pm. The play continues with 7:30 shows on Friday and Saturday night in addition to 2 pm matinees Saturday and Sunday.
Tickets are $12 with a discounted price of $10 for CCRI students, faculty, staff and seniors and are available by calling 401-825-2219.
Directed by CCRI alumnus and Adjunct Theater Professor Anthony Goes, 1959 Pink Thunderbird opens with “Laundry & Bourbon,” which follows Elizabeth, the lonely wife of Vietnam veteran Roy, who is struggling to deal with her husband’s Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) while trying to find the appropriate time to tell him she is pregnant. Elizabeth spends her afternoon folding laundry, only to be disrupted by her friends Hattie and Amy Lee, who spill small-town gossip and squabble over a few glasses of bourbon and Coke.
In “Lone Star,” the second act of the play, viewers meet Roy –rugged, macho war veteran, and former high-school superstar – wasting away the wee hours of the morning at a small bar alongside his brother, Ray, and close friend, Cletis, while sharing the intimate details of his time in Vietnam and his difficulty letting go of the past. Roy learns his most prized possession, his 1959 Pink Thunderbird, is destroyed, as is the foundation of his marriage, both at the hands of his most trusted allies.
Originally written by McLure as a comedy, Goes says 1959 Pink Thunderbird is as relevant and important today as it was in the early 1970s with its reoccurring themes of PTSD and military veterans struggling with reacclimating to a civilian lifestyle. This week’s production is Goes’ first as a director and the six-person ensemble cast is composed entirely of CCRI students. Warwick native Dan Garcia plays the role of Ray and Deryn Leigh of East Greenwich stars as Elizabeth.
“This type of production gives the actors relatable topics and allows them to be at the forefront of current events. There are such real themes in both plays,” said Goes, a Pawtucket, RI, native and 2003 CCRI graduate. “While it’s labeled as a comedy, the comedy comes out of the truth of the situation as opposed to a traditional laugh riot.
“As we continued to work on it, we said to ourselves, ‘This is a really honest, dramatic piece of theater.’ The characters have no filters and the viewer is driven to laugh out of a state of uncomfortableness. Working with the students and watching these young actors learn how to play to those moments was truly inspiring.”
The Community College of Rhode Island, New England’s largest community college, enrolls nearly 20,000 students in credit-bearing programs and an additional 8,500 individuals in workforce development programs and adult education courses annually. CCRI also provides transportation education and certification to 14,000 Rhode Islanders each year. Classes and programs are offered at CCRI’s full-service campuses in Warwick, Lincoln, Providence and Newport, online and in partnership with the Westerly Education Center. For more information, visit www.ccri.edu.