BWW Review: Well Arts' BREAKING RANK Brings Women Veterans' Stories Powerfully to Life
Women have served on U.S. battlefields since our country's beginning. Women were nurses, cooks, and even saboteurs in the American Revolutionary War. In the Civil War, women disguised as men were soldiers. In 1866, Dr. Mary Walker was awarded the Medal of Honor, becoming the first and only woman ever to do so.
More recently, in 2008 the Army promoted its first woman to the rank of four-star general. Just a few months ago, the Pentagon announced that all military positions -- even combat ones -- would be open to women. (For a full timeline, visit the website of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation.)
While all military service members face challenges, the ones faced by women have been compounded by sexism and the difficulties of living and working in an environment dominated by men. The stories of these women, who have given themselves to the service of our country, are important, and we don't hear them often enough.
But we have the chance to hear them now, in BREAKING RANK, the current production by Well Arts Institute in partnership with Returning Veteran's Project and Wise Counsel and Comfort. BREAKING RANK was written by five local veterans -- Jeanne Clayton, Patti Jay, Jojo Jackson, Layna Lewis, and Sandy Scott. In this play, they tell their stories -- of their challenges and hardships, but also of their successes and accomplishments.
The stories span decades, from before women were permitted in many leadership roles, almost to the present. Some reflect the women's rights landscape of the country at large, for example, as women tried to figure out how they could have it all, meaning a family as well as a military career, in the same way that men always have. Others deal with issues that affect women disproportionately, including sexual assault and the complications surrounding reporting it, which most don't do for fear of retaliation.
Not all of the stories are of hardship. For example, Ace, whose military career dates back to 1969, was in the right place at the right time to have many firsts. Despite the challenges, she wouldn't change her experience for anything.
To tell these stories, Well Arts has assembled a strong cast -- Margie Boule, Stephanie Cordell, Garlond Lyons, Sofia May-Cuxim, Cecily Overman, and Andrea White. The result is a performance that is powerful and informative, and gives us greater insight into the lives of the people whose job is to serve and protect.
BREAKING RANK runs through March 5, so you don't have much time, but I highly recommend you see it, both because it's important and because it's good.
Get your tickets here: http://wellarts.org/performance/