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by Mitchell Terpstra | THEATRE New Play Uncovers Family History

and stoke a sense of familial pride. Until, that is, he encountered the



FEB 11-12, 2011 DEVOS HALL 7:30PM

Tickets start at $20 616.451.2741

Parking is available in ramps along Monroe. Late seating is limited. Sung in Italian with projected English translations. Casual attire is welcome.


exact same account in Goodspeed’s History of Arkansas, a collection of local history, biographies and anecdotes published in the 1880s. Goodspeed’s History verified the oration

Daniels had often heard at family get-togeth- ers. In the 1840s his great-great-grandfather and great-great-great-uncle—brothers, still of high school age—had enlisted with the U.S. Army and hurried off to fight under General Zachary Thomas in the disputed territory that Mexico owned and the U.S. wanted: A swath of land stretching from the Rio Grande north all the way to Wyoming and West to the Pacific which accounted for roughly half of the Mexican state. In battle, Daniel’s great- great-great-uncle had been severely wounded, and together, the two young brothers had

O PROFESSOR JAMES Daniels of Western Michigan University, the story had always seemed the stuff of family legend—the type of tall-tale typi- cally told around the hearth or table to memorialize ancestors

made a near-miraculous sojourn home to Shelbyville, Tenn., where Daniels’ great-great- uncle finally died. But what prompted them to enlist?

Were they enticed by the attractive signing bonuses? Did they believe in President James Polk’s dubious assertions of Manifest Destiny? “And was my great-great-great-uncle

keeping himself alive just to see home one last time, or did the trip kill him?” asks Daniels. Goodspeed’s History doesn’t reveal every-

SO FAR FROM GOD York Arena Theatre, WMU, Kalamazoo Jan. 27-Feb. 6, show times at 2 and 8 p.m. $20 for adults; $15 for seniors; $5 for students with ID, (269) 387-6222

thing, especially the characters’ psychologies, and Daniels, in turning the family story into a script, had to fill in some of the gaps. “It’s a fiction on my part,” Daniels said. “I’ve made speculations on the family story and turned it into a picaresque journey that’s a ghost story, love story and political story all in one. There is some po- litical and spiritual agenda running through it. I try to raise critical questions about the very shaky moral and ethical grounds of the Mexican-American War.” In addition to being a

theatre professor, director and playwright, Daniels is also a Vietnam veteran, which

has made him “skeptical about the origins of wars.” Hence, Daniels cites Ulysses S. Grant’s

belated national and self-condemnation of the war, despite his being awarded for his “heroic” part in it. “The war with Mexico was one of the

worst crimes perpetrated by a stronger nation against a weaker one. I would have resigned my commission but did not have the moral courage to do so.” In revisiting some our historical blind

spots, Daniel’s family-story-turned-stage- production So Far from God might just place the label of “illegal immigrant” on a whole new population when it premieres in late January. n

Other Theatre Events | by Toni Swider

In The Heights DeVos Performance Hall, Grand Rapids

Jan. 4-9, show times at 1, 2, 6:30, 7:30 and 8 p.m. Tickets start at $32, (616) 235-6285

The four-time Tony Award winning In the Heights is a sensational theatrical performance about chasing your dreams and finding the place to call home. This exhilarating show has plenty of upbeat dancing along with a thrilling storyline set in the vibrant community of Manhattan. Find out what it takes to make a living in a city where the coffee is plenty and the lights are always shining. The rhythm of three generations of music will guide you home as you discover the cost of your dreams.

The Diary of Anne Frank Grand Rapids Civic Theater

Jan. 14-30, show times at 2 and 7:30 p.m. $14-$25, (616) 222-6650

Watch a part of history unfold as new writing from Anne Frank’s diary, along with other accounts from survivors, comes alive onstage. The original stage play shows Anne Frank emerging from history as an immensely gifted young girl who confronts her roller coaster of a life head on. You see her experience the increasing horror of her time with the utmost honesty and determination. The raw truth of how history played out through this young girls eyes is a must see for anyone. Experience the trials and tribulations with Anne Frank.

Nine Sinatra Songs Peter Wege Theatre, Grand Rapids

Jan. 28 -30 and Feb. 4-6, show times at 2 and 7:30 p.m. $30, $25 (seniors), $20 (Children), (616) 454-4771

Twyla Tharp’s ballet Nine Sinatra Songs is packed with passion, excitement and glamour – thanks especially to Oscar de la Renta, who designed the costumes. Sinatra is honored as “Strangers in the Night and” “One for My Baby,” are performed with choreography by José Limón.


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