War-era production finishes three month run


The Cast of “The Bronze Star” received a standing ovation at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival competition in Los Angeles Feb. 15.

[Stephanie Rangel] The Cast of “The Bronze Star” received a standing ovation at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival competition in Los Angeles Feb. 15.

This year, “The Bronze Star” competed in a thrilling competition as a semi-finalist of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. It is a part of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts based out of Washington, and is only one of the few features of this well-rounded Performing Arts Center. The goals of the center are to bridge the gap between the creativity of a college playwright and a level of professionalism that will benefit them in the development of their career in the arts.

The play is a daring work of drama that originates directly from Citrus College professor Bruce Solheim and his colleague Neil Weiss. Solheim is a professor of History since 1877 (HIST 108) as well as History of the Vietnam War (HIST 155), which he has a special experience with.

Based on a true story, “The Bronze Star” is the story of a gay Vietnam veteran who struggles with finding acceptance after the traumatic experience of being in war. Bruce Solheim met the man that would inspire the story, Carl Ferguson, in 2000 at the East LA Veterans Center.

Not only did Carl have to deal with the horrific memories of war, but he also had to deal with being gay and alone. Shortly after the September 11 attacks, the fear of another war was too heavy a burden on him and he committed suicide.

He thought about writing a book, but that would not give Carl’s story justice. He wanted people to see Carl’s struggles and the pain he dealt with. “It is a very important story, I’m not going to let Carl pass away and be forgotten.” After three years of work, with help from Weiss, the play was brought to life.

“The Bronze Star” uses Citrus’ own veterans. Solheim says, “The play gives veterans therapeutic value and allows them to bring their own experiences in.” Solheim thinks that it’s “a really important thing for them, in their healing of the war to be part of the production.”

“The Bronze Star” is one of seven plays competing in the festival. The play is competing in Region VIII, which is comprised of colleges and universities in California, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and Hawaii.

The cast and crew are currently awaiting notice of advancement for the competition but in the meantime, hope to get “The Bronze Star” in an LA theater for regular performances in the coming year.

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