WHAT: "Medal of Honor Rag"
WHEN: June 9th July 17th
Thursday, Friday, Saturday 8pm & Sunday 3pm
WHERE: Egyptian Arena Theater
1625 N. Las Palmas Avenue
Hollywood, CA 90028
Tickets: $30 June 16 July 17
Tickets are available at www.heavyd.org or by calling The HerShe Group 323-650-3100
Just a few blocks away from the Egyptian Arena Theatre in Hollywood, sits a frail and dejected elderly figure seeking spare change from passers-by, a cardboard placard perched on his lap. Hes a veteran soldier, the placard reads, with disabilities, and says he needs spare change for a meal. Whether his plight is a ploy or an accurate account, his tale of dejection and despair or somewhat close to it is the setting for the Heavy D. produced stage play, "Medal of Honor Rag," which tells the compelling true story of a Vietnam veteran Dale "D.J." Jackson (Heavy D) and an army psychiatrist (Paul Schackman).
This dramatic 60 minute stage play directed by actor Delroy Lindo and written by Tom Cole takes place in the basement office of an army hospital in Pennsylvania in 1971, and apart from the guard (Graham Shields) who escorts in Jackson for his psychiatric evaluation with the army doctor (Schackman), there are no other characters so the weight of the performance lies almost entirely on Heavy Ds ability to perform which he does exceedingly well. The rapper who made his theatrical debut in the one-act off-Broadway performance of "Riff Raff," says he fell in love with the theatre whilst in production on the play and claims the training received on "Riff Raff" and working with notable actors and directors on projects like "The Cider House Rules" and "Life" provided him with the training to bring D.J.s character to life.
D.J. Jackson was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroic efforts in Vietnam in the 70s. Disillusioned, despondent and depressed, he has seen countless of psychiatrists since his return to the United States from the war and his initial reaction to this new psychiatrist is with hostility and suspicion, but what follows are bitter and emotional exchanges as these two individuals, both guilty survivors of Vietnam, verbally spar until the doctor draws out the horror and disgust that has traumatized D.J. From explosive outbursts to heart wrenching cries, Heavy Ds portrayal of Jackson is commendable as he truly embodies the character. He cries and shouts and grips the audience with his admirable performance of a depressed war hero. Though the stage is bare, but for two chairs and a table, there is an effective use of the stage with both actors utilizing the platform to portray a touching story with fine grace and style. From topics of how he (D.J.) was welcomed back to Seattle to the jungles of Vietnam where catastrophic things happened, there are several dramatic interactions that get abusive at times as the doctor attempts to convince D.J. to attend another therapy session. Although doubtful two little know actors can entice an audience for a 60-minute duration, both do a commendable job with solid raw emotion.
About one in three Vietnam veterans suffered from full or partial Post Traumatic Stress after the war and "Medal of Honor Rag" is a solemn true narration of one mans plight. It is a dramatic, haunting play worth a peak as the slimmed down Heavy D. shows an acting ability that is truly remarkable. "Medal of Honor Rag" is playing at the Egyptian Arena Theater in Hollywood and runs through July 17. The play is executive produced by Heavy D, produced by Kenadie Cobbin and Avery Williams Productions.