Ponder, Kiefer Lead Upcoming MY FATHER'S WAR Performances
My Father's War: A Story of Conflict, Survival, and Grace. adapted and performed by 2014 First Night Honorees Carol Ponder and Robert Kiefer from the WWII memoir Ponder Anew, written by Lt. Herschel Ponder, will be performed Fridays and Saturdays, March 24, 25, 31 and April 1 and Sunday, March 26, at St. Mark's Episcopal Church, 3100 Murfreesboro Pike in Nashville.
Curtain is at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday evenings, with a 2 p.m. Sunday matinee on March 26. Admission donations taken at the door will be presented to Room In The Inn.
Wife and husband team Carol Ponder and Robert Kiefer created and perform My Father's War, which is described as "a powerful storytelling and music experience." Adapted from Ponder's father's 1989 memoir about "his war - World War II," the story is told in Herschel Ponder's storytelling voice: "droll, sincere, and cruelly straightforward," according to his daughter.
The performance is about a boy who enlists in the Army Air Corps after Pearl Harbor, leaving his beloved Appalachian Mountains. He becomes a "professional exterminator," flying P-47 Thunderbolts. When he comes home again, he must reintegrate into civilian life while struggling with Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) and other unseen wounds from his war.
Songs from the period and the mountains create a context for his story, including old favorites like "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree" and "I'll Be Seeing You" and traditional songs including "When Johnny Comes Marching Home," "The Minstrel Boy" and even "Goober Peas." The production evokes the essence of war and warriors, their victories, sacrifices, loyalty to each other, and the sweet pain of coming home.
"My Father's War isn't just about WWII - it's about going to war and coming home again," says Kiefer. "The discussions after every performance are always rich with shared experiences."
Supported by members of the military, mental health professionals, and a growing theatrical audience, Ponder and Kiefer perform My Father's War and lead related creative workshops and residencies for veterans and those in active service, for their friends and families, in schools, and for all audiences age 12 and up.
The performance is a catalyst for healing and reintegration for veterans and their families. Ponder and Kiefer donate all events for veterans of all ages at VA facilities and for other veterans' organizations. My Father's War also helps all other audiences understand what we ask from the individuals who serve.
In his memoir, Lt. Ponder wrote of his fears, his joys, and his struggle to remain human during and after an inhumane war. My Father's War has deeply engaged thousands of people in over 150 performances in seven states. Audience response from veterans and from people in all walks of life - including middle and high school students - has been tremendous.
2014 First Night Honorees Carol Ponder and Robert Kiefer have been theater and music professionals for over 40 years. Taken together, they have acted, sung, danced in, and directed hundreds of productions and thousands of performances. Creating and performing My Father's War and leading creative workshops and residencies grounded in the performance use everything they've ever learned about the performing arts and education through the arts.