Giving Voice to the Voiceless
Douglas Taurel is a powerful storyteller.
Through his one-man show, The American Soldier, Taurel delivers a moving, nostalgic and dynamic performance that is based on real letters and stories written by veterans and their families from the American Revolution to the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“The goal of the show is to honor vets and thank the families for their immense sacrifice for our country,” said Taurel. “The show strives to show why it is so difficult for vets to come back into society once they return home.”
While Taurel explained that the show is not political in nature, it is very patriotic. In fact, the idea of The American Soldier was born following the attacks on the World Trade Center and the ensuing patriotism that quickly spread throughout the country.
“It was a crystal fall day, not a cloud in the sky. I walked out the World Trade Center eight minutes after the first plane hit on 9/11,” said Taurel. “I witnessed the event.”
What he remembers most following the tragedy was the patriotism, grit and determination that Americans showed, which served as a catalyst that drove him to get involved somehow.
“I ended up reading stories about vets who couldn’t pay their bills, couldn’t adjust to society, suffered with PTSD – which was just starting to be talked about,” he said. “We were actually at war, and we were sending men and women into battle, but we were going about our days as if nothing was happening.”
Once Taurel began researching the history of veterans, he began to go down a rabbit hole, becoming obsessed with the narrative and finding basic patterns along the way by 2012. Besides reading all the letters he could find from veterans and their families, he took a playwriting class and became passionate about sharing a story to honor vets.
“No one really wanted to see war subject matter at that time,” he said. “It was not really a subject matter for New York.”
Still, Taurel persevered and created a 20-minute version of the story. He performed the show for the first time before an audience of eight in 2015 at the Bowery Poetry Club in New York.
“Even though the audience was small, I felt that the play now had a voice for the first time,” said Taurel. “I received a standing ovation and an audience member shared how moving the play was.”
That was all the encouragement he needed to continue with his one-man show, later receiving great reviews from the Huffington Press and a nomination for the Amnesty International Award while performing in Scotland. By word of mouth and social media, the appreciation of Taurel’s show grew to include sold out shows, as he traveled to twenty-six states and forty cities, including a performance at the White House and the Kennedy Center.
On Nov. 17, Taurel will bring his show to the Performing Arts Center at Kent State Tuscarawas, which will include the addition of a new character – Nancy, a tough girl from the Bronx – who joins the other fifteen characters he portrays.
“I love telling their stories – I am a storyteller,” said Taurel.
Tickets for The American Soldier are free thanks to the generous support of the New Philadelphia VFW Post 1445 and VFW Ohio Charities and are available now at the Performing Arts Center box office, 330-308-6400 or online at www.kent.edu/tuscpac. The box office is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.