Homefront by Tuscarora High School in Leesburg, Virginia, November 7, 2020
Homefront is available for viewing on Veteran’s Day, November 11 at 7:00. Proceeds go to Veteran’s Affairs Covid-19 Fund. Tickets are available at: https://www.showtix4u.com/event-details/41787
Bishop Ireton High School
With Veteran’s Day just around the corner, Tuscarora High School’s video production Homefront reminded audience members of the immense sacrifices service members and their families make all year long. The performance provided a glimpse into the lives of veterans, military dependents, and soldiers themselves, and it explored the heartache that often goes along with serving one’s country.
Homefront was a collection of monologues and short scenes from these differing viewpoints. The show began with a woman (Bailey Vigil) who was grappling with the reality that her fiancé (who was a prisoner of war) may never make it home. Vigil’s characterization and ability to convey this painful experience was striking, and it set the tone for the rest of the show. There were a number of other notable performances, like Eliza Noyd as a girl reunited with her father after his deployment, and Kylie Coggins as a service woman whose personal loss inspired her to join the military and help others. Even though each scene in this show was based on a different situation, they all depicted the frustration, heartache, and pain that often accompanied the sacrifice that members of the military made for the greater good.
Students from Tuscarora seamlessly transitioned to this virtual format, and their behind-the-scenes elements were just as strong as their performances “onstage.” The script was written by students, and most performers were able to devise their own monologues. This added touch not only gave the students the unique opportunity to broaden their theatrical skill sets, but it also added a level of authenticity to the production as a whole. Other tech elements, such as costumes, were used effectively (especially considering the restrictions due to COVID-19). Camouflage, a boy scout uniform, and a onesie were all used, and each unique outfit further emphasized the different perspectives that each character had.
Overall, Homefront conveyed meaningful messages through a new online format. The proceeds from this production go towards the Veteran’s Affairs Covid-19 Fund, so not only will it be a moving performance, but it will also benefit the very people the show honors.
Falls Church High School
It is tough for anyone to be away from loved ones. But for military families, it is normal to go through the heartache and grief of separation for months at a time. Tuscarora High School set out to tackle this issue and other issues facing military families in Homefront, an original, virtual work of devised theater. The night was marked by strong acting and creative choices to adapt theater to a socially distanced setting.
As a collection of monologues and dialogues, Homefront did not have leading and supporting characters. Rather, each actor had only a short scene to make their contribution to the show. Standout performances included Patrick Hensley and Riley Steinkirchner as Dustin and Dustin’s Dad and Stephanie Reed as a Granddaughter. Hensley played a teenager harboring feelings of resentment towards his father, who was stationed overseas. He demonstrated mastery over his character by employing well-timed sighs, nuanced inflections, and heavy beats. As Dustin’s Father, Steinkirchner expertly captured the despair of a man who had missed his son growing up and was desperate for reconciliation. Their Zoom call was one of the most moving parts of the evening. Stephanie Reed’s performance as the Granddaughter was also impressive. Reed’s animated demeanor and outstanding storytelling ability kept her scene interesting and lively.
Homefront should also be commended for its technical aspects, especially considering the limitations put in place due to the pandemic. The choice to do devised theater worked well for a virtual setting. Actors were able to write and record their individual scenes, which could be smoothly stitched together. One area where creativity was evident was the costumes, designed by Bailey Vigil. In particular, Tyler Steeprow’s Boy Scout uniform and Kylie Coggins’ military jacket added a realistic touch to the characters that they embodied.
Tuscarora High School’s Homefront was a poignant, well-executed, and entertaining reflection on the hardships endured by members of the military and their families. The message sent by the show will resonate with all who see it through this Veterans’ Day season and beyond.