A Note from the Director - DOGFIGHT
In DOGFIGHT, you’re going to meet the adrenaline of hormone-raging, insensitive, raucous young marines on the eve of their deployment to Viet Nam in 1963. They are brash, profane and their 13-week military training has desensitized their humanity. When Eddie is with his buds, the “power of the pack” mentality sets in and he hardly seems different than his comrades. But on this night, Eddie will meet a gentle, sensitive and compassionate young woman and he’ll find himself caught between the aggressive, machismo, live-it-up mentality of his comrades and the quiet gentle nature of Rose. The desensitization of Eddie from his military training crumbles as he discovers, through Rose’s kindness and hurt, that he has a heart. This meeting…and the battle in Viet Nam…will forever change the life of Eddie Birdlace.
With our 2015 mentality, what you are about to see will surely make you uncomfortable. The language of these marines will burn your ears; their lack of respect and humiliation of women will sting your eyes. Amidst the profanity and male bravado, DOGFIGHT shows us how the power of compassion and love can conquer even the most inbred penchant for hurling insults and misogamy.
Historical degradation of any group is distasteful and unpleasant to watch. But that doesn’t mean that we should ignore the fact that it existed. History often makes us uncomfortable.
DOGFIGHT doesn’t condone the men’s treatment of women, but shines a spotlight ona long-standing Marine Corp tradition in which men compete to recruit the ugliest date for a party…which can arguably be viewed as one more step on their road to dehumanization…of themselves and of others…as they embark on a journey half way around the world to kill with zero compunction.
We are talking about a group of teenage boys about to be packed off to a country they know next to nothing of, many, many miles from home. A group of scared children, the majority likely fairly uneducated, who have been drilled into believing in their own invincibility and turning a blind eye to anybody but their military comrades. The boy-warriors are portrayed as both violent and vulnerable, cruel and comic, which should inspire contradictory feelings in what you are watching—affection, pity, sympathy, and disgust.
Bear in mind that these boys are the males of the 60s...November 21st,1963, on the eve of President Kennedy’s assassination and the women’s liberation movement. This was a time when equality between the sexes was not even close to being a reality. A time when Americans truly believed they were untouchable. A day later, that belief would implode and the slow erosion of the USA's unshakeable idealism would begin. These boys expect to return home to a hero’s welcome, never considering the possibility of death or of coming back to find themselves regarded by the peace movement as scorned symbols of an unnecessary conflict. This atypical musical recalls the ethical questions war raised and continues to raise today.
The female characters in the story are not to be pitied…they are stronger, brighter and often more in control than their male counterparts. They are no feeble victims. The characters to be pitied are the men. The BOYS. The boys who will never come back from a war they don't understand. The boys who don't know any better. The boys who cling to the mob mentality and to each other because it's the only thing that makes them feel safe, validated, and powerful…the only thing that makes them feel like 'men'.
What follows is a night of powerful emotions and lessons for Eddie, Rose, and the Marines. It’s a night where there are no winners, but in which morals, values, humility, and humanity are explored and dissected.