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Veterans Share Stories, Speak Truth

Mondays are typically dark here at the Geffen — a night off for actors and crew having just completed a five-show weekend.

On Monday, December 7, however, the Gil Cates Theater was ablaze with storytelling. The Geffen Playhouse Education & Community Engagement’s Veterans Writing & Performance Workshop took the stage for a performance — first of its kind at the theater.

Over the course of four months, local veterans of various backgrounds and branches met in the Geffen Playhouse Annex to write (and rewrite) their personal stories. At the helm was April Fitzsimmons, a teaching artist, veteran, playwright and staff writer on ABC Family’s Stitchers, who supported these soldiers in their success as master storytellers.

education vet


Pre-show was simple: in the lobby, casually dressed patrons hummed along to the oldies playing over the speakers and the bar was open for business. The lobby began to fill up, the lights flickered — time to take our seats.

Lights up in the Cates. Fifteen soldiers out of uniform gathered center stage — “Army” “Coast Guard” “Navy” — were just a few of the words called out as they split down the middle, took their seats on either side of the empty stage and then, the stories took flight. A paramedic, an accountant, a mom-to-be (like ABOUT to be any second) and a pole-dancing instructor, just to name a few, all spoke their truth. But it’s not necessarily how you think. The fifteen participants told the truth about their own heroes — the people that shaped them — heroes talking heroes.


Their stories ranged in detail from the blood soaked battle fields of Afghanistan, to the emotional battles here at home — all through the lens of their everyday heroes.

In all, the show was two hours in length but for this civilian, it felt like a flash.

One of the storytellers, Jason Fracaro (pictured below), said after the show:

lobby post show

“Up until this point I never considered myself a writer. However, with the help of our mentor (April Fitzsimmons), I learned that we all have stories within us to tell. What makes an audience connect to the stories we tell are the human qualities that we imbue the work with.”

To find out more about education and community engagement programs at the Geffen Playhouse, please email .

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