One actor’s passion project to help people understand what war veterans experience has turned into a life-changing experience for him and those who see it, and it will come to Hays on Sept. 8.
Douglas Taurel originally put together his one-man show, “An American Solider,” as a thank you to veterans.
Taurel found in the New York City Public Library collections of letters written by soldiers starting with the Revolutionary War. He put some of those together in a one-man show that he took to various acting workshops and festivals.
“People were moved by it,” he said.
After working more on the show, he anticipated performing the show a few times, but it sold out for three weeks.
For the last two years, he has toured across the country and even to Scotland, and performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., during President Donald Trump’s inauguration weekend.
“It’s kind of taken me on a journey I never imagined,” Taurel said in a phone interview from New York City.
He’s taken his family on the tour sometimes, and he said it’s given him an opportunity to see the “nuts and bolts” and America.
Hays will be his first time in Kansas. John Pyle of the Hays chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America said one of the group’s members had heard about the show and recommended it.
“He’s really excited because it’s a Vietnam veterans chapter that wants him out here,” Pyle said.
Rather than attempting to comment on whether or not war is right or wrong, Taurel said he wanted to give audiences an idea of the complete sacrifice and commitment by those in the military, as well as their families at home during times of war.
In the show, Taurel takes on the roles of 14 different characters including soldiers from the Revolutionary War to Afghanistan and even a soldier’s wife and child.
“The goal of the show is to give the audience a deeper appreciation of what veterans go through,” Taurel said.
He wants it to be an uplifting message, he said.
“Nothing’s been done like this before, so I think people are going to get a new awakening of what veterans go through and what they do encounter,” Pyle said.
Although not a veteran himself, Taurel said military service has played a role in his family, including his sister and nieces.
Taurel has appeared in numerous television shows including “Blue Bloods,” “Person of Interest,” “Damage” and “Nurse Jackie,” as well as films such as Adam Sandlers’ “The Cobbler,” and the upcoming “The Kindergarten Teacher” starring Maggie Gyllenhall.
Much of his work and his training as an actor are on stage, however, where he said he can connect with the audience.
Those connections have been “overwhelming and mindblowing,” he said, especially from veterans.
He said the show has become a sort of mouthpiece for veterans, many of whom are reluctant to discuss dealing with their injuries — both physical and metal — from combat.
“It releases things for veterans that they feel they’re not allowed to express,” he said.
“They keep the play going.”