• One woman and men looking ahead

      (L-R) Doug Rynerson, Oraldo Austin, Lori McKenna, Kat Prado-Ventress, Darwin Lujan, and Elijah Reyes (Photo – Luke Bolle)

      “If All The Sky Were Paper” is a play that combines authentic war time letters and recollections with powerful performances.

      By Jordan Lynn

      Through real letters from soldiers, doctors, and civilians, spanning from wars of the past to the then current Iraq War, the play captures themes of honor, sacrifice, and hope amidst conflict. This play is a testament to the human experience in times of war, and is an experience that should not be missed. Ten more performances of “If All the Sky Were Paper” will be available through July 7 at Porticos Art Space in Pasadena.

      If all the skies were paper and all the seas were ink, there still wouldn’t be enough words to describe the horrific experiences of those who have endured war. “If All the Sky Were Paper” by Andrew Carroll is an amazing collection to honor the sacrifice and experiences of those who have experienced war. This performance is a must see.

      I am a veteran’s granddaughter. My grandfather survived the Japanese invasion of the Philippines and later served in the US Navy. The letters in this play are exactly like the letters he exchanged with my grandmother. These letters are from real people who lived these experiences, not just stories made up by writers to invoke emotions. These letters are lived experiences, filled with the raw emotions of those who wrote them.

      This play is more than a collection of letters. It is an experience that brings events from so far away right to your door, offering you a vivid look at war from the firsthand perspective. Through the honest words of service members, ordinary citizens, war doctors, and other observers, “If All the Sky Were Paper” offers a harrowing, honest yet hopeful narrative of war. The authenticity of these real letters reminds us that it’s people who go off to war and that they are the witnesses to what transpired there. Their honest recollections to family and friends in their letters are relatable and so real.

      The play captures the overarching themes of honor, sacrifice, and the shared human experience of war. Letters are shared from both sides of various conflicts. Letters on the innocent who are lost along the way are also shared. It balances moments of humor and darkness, portraying the gravity of emotions felt by those who lived through and experienced these trying times. The letters offer glimpses into the lives of soldiers and civilians, revealing a common thread of horror, hope and resilience amidst the cruel realities of conflict, tragedy of loss and the sheer brutality people can inflict on one another.

      The performances are handled with reverence and grace. The narrator skillfully guides the audience through each letter set, providing context and depth to the stories. The narrator explains how this collection of letters came to be, the author’s journey to gather the letters and why it happened at all. There were many stand out moments that left the audience visibly moved, sometimes to laughter and other times to tears. The raw, heartfelt emotions portrayed by the actors make it feel as though you are truly there, experiencing the lives of these individuals.

      Everyone should experience “If All The Sky Were Paper.” It reminds us of the shared humanity and hope that persist even in the face of war. Though the subject is war time letters, what you truly grasp is that the ultimate hope people have is for peace and for a world without war.

      This play should not be missed.

      men on stage looking forward

      (L-R) Brian Lai, Lily Baer, Doug Rynerson, Elijah Reyes, Mark Youngs (Photo – Luke Bolle)

      If All The Sky Were Paper
      Produced by Arroyo Repertory Theatre
      Written by Andrew Carroll
      Directed by Jude Lucas
      June 21- July 7, 2024:
      -Thursday at 7:30 pm on June 27.
      -Fridays at 7:30 pm on June 28 and July 5.
      -Saturdays at 3:00 pm on June 29 and July 6.
      -Saturdays at 7:30 pm on June 29 and July 6.
      -Sundays at 3:00 pm on June 23, 30 and July 7.
      $35. Students, seniors, and veterans $25.
      Porticos Art Space
      2033 East Washington Boulevard
      Pasadena, CA 91104
      Online Ticketing at this link.

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