Friendly's Fire (Or, Guy Friendly Meets the Saint of Thieves)
Oct 5 – Nov 11
Barter Stage II
“Winner of Barter’s 2015 Appalachian Festival of Plays and Playwrights.”
Recommended for mature audiences due to language and subject matter.
By John Patrick Bray
with original music by Matt Martin and lyrics by John Patrick Bray
Incidental music by Matt Martin
An homage to Western movies, He-Man action figures, and the playwright’s belief as a child that the Sesame Street Muppet Guy Smiley was in fact God, “Friendly’s Fire” shows us what lengths a man will go to preserve his friend’s sanity, and what lengths another will go to allow himself to remember his brother, who died in service to our country. In a cabin in Alaska, Guy Friendly, a Gulf War veteran and bee-herder, has just brought the wrong woman home for a one-night stand. His best friend Todd, a pawnshop owner dressed as an astronaut, finds Friendly in a fevered state. Trapped by the snow, Todd has little choice but enter Friendly’s fevered dream, to unravel the events of the night before – and the events of the Gulf War that led Friendly to becoming a shut-in.
A FUN AND FUNNY JOURNEY ABOUT A VERY SERIOUS SUBJECT
For those struggling to make sense of a senseless world, Friendly's Fire is for you. If you have ever known anyone who has been through a traumatic life-altering event or you yourself have experienced a traumatic moment or you have tried to provide care for someone who is suffering because of trauma, you know that the movies have it wrong. Those trying to find their way out of the stress of trauma don’t always go down the dark paths or extreme actions of violence to solve their problems. At times, they look for and use humor and absurd, sometimes fun and interesting, hallucinations to look for the solutions to the pain that they feel or to make sense of their world.
One of my most memorable stories of caring for a friend who was suffering from trauma, related to his service in Vietnam, was helping him chase a glowing green fox all night long, while never leaving the room where he stayed. It was a creative way for him to begin to find a solution to his problems and, by being fun, was neither threatening nor dangerous. It was actually a lot of fun. We laugh, cried, got angry, told stories, and chased the green fox through hours of adventures. Some of the adventures I could relate to what I knew of his life and other divergences. Chasing the fox meant nothing to me, but clearly connected deeply to how my friend now related to his life post Vietnam.
I am not going to say my friend was cured following the adventure of the green fox; but it helped. Eventually, he did find a path toward normalcy; one never truly recovers; never truly forgets.
John Patrick Bray’s wonderfully creative play, about the truly bizarre, exciting and humorous adventure of one man’s journey to restore his trauma-filled life, rings very true to life. Yes, life is sometimes way wilder than fiction. In John’s play Friendly, whose life has been traumatized by the loss of his brother, for which he feels responsible, encounters a man dressed in an astronaut’s suit, a polar bear, superhero figures from his bother’s childhood play chest, poachers and even bees, all of whom help him to find his way home, while never leaving his cabin in Alaska. What a wonderful adventure for all of us to experience and to help us understand how the world looks from the inside.
Friends, who served in Vietnam, Desert Storm, Afghanistan, and/or Iraq and a few that have had other major traumatic experiences have read this play and found it to be very true to their lives and to the experiences with friends deeply mired in trauma.
The statistic are, “An estimated 7.8 percent of Americans will experience Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) at some point in their lives, with women (10.4%) twice as likely as men (5%) to develop PTSD. About 3.6 percent of United States adults aged 18 to 54 (5.2 million people) have PTSD during the course of a given year.”
This play is for them and for everyone who is trying to understand, care for, and love anyone coping with trauma. It’s essential that we all understand what they are going through. It is also essential that we keep perspective and a sense of humor, if we wish to help each other through the struggle.
Yes, indeed, Friendly's Fire is truly a fun and wonderful journey about a very serious and important subject. I hope you enjoy the ride and learn to navigate along the way!
Director, Friendly’s Fire.
Cast & Credits
Cast (In Order of Appearance):
Guy Friendly: Nicholas Piper
Jessica: Sarah Laughland
Queen Bee: Hannah Ingram
Todd: Rick McVey
Actor #1 (Plays the following roles): Sean Maximo Campos
Actor #2 (Plays the following roles); Joe Veale
Voice of Dennis
Rehearsal Assistant Stage Manager: Victoria L. Sutton
Director: Richard Rose
Set and Production Designer: Kevin Dudley
Costume Designer: Kelly Jenkins
Lighting Designer: Camille Davis
Sound Designer: Tony Angelini
Wig and Makeup Designer: Whitney Kaibel
Stage Manager: Cindi Raebel