Reflection: Shirley Lauro’s A Piece of My Heart

In late September, the production of Shirley Lauro’s A Piece of My Heart wrapped at Hale Park nearby Summit, IL. The production that I was a part of, that was so incredibly emotionally and mentally draining for me (but was ultimately worthwhile) had its last show with an avenue opening for a reprise / revival to occur sometime down the road.

However, very early on in the rehearsal process I originally wanted to read the book “A Piece of My Heart: The Stories of Twenty-Six American Women Who Served in Vietnam” Put together by Keith Walker. In the end I decided not to due to the possibility of having twenty-six different voices in my head versus just one voice that is a conglomeration of a few of the stories. Granted there are pros and cons in reading the original stories… But in the end I was glad I made that decision of not reading any of the original stories prior to the run of the production.

However, now that the run is over, I was tempted to go and read the book that inspired the play:

So why now? Simply because I really wanted to know all of these individual stories and how they were broken down and used to create the six women who ultimately became the women in Shirley Lauro’s adaptation of the book.

For anyone who is familiar with the stage play the six women were comprised of one from the American Red Cross, three nurses, an entertainer, and an intelligence officer. I have already given character role descriptions of these characters in my previous post about the production so really curiosity got the best of me when I stared at the book that this play was based off of and realized that I was going to keep staring until I finally decided to open it up and dive on in.

As of right now I have only read a small handful of the twenty-six stories, but from what I have read I realize that I was going to need to take my time before reading all of the accounts.

From the first three / four accounts, I already noticed excerpts that were taken from these first few accounts and were almost used verbatim in the show. So I got curious: especially when it came to the two minorities in Leeaan who was Asian-American and Steele who was African-American. So I flipped through the book and found the lone Asian-American account towards the end and found the African-American account in the middle.

Reading these two accounts in particularly realized just how much of the lives of Leeann and Steele were essentially these two women to a tee and suddenly I was curious as to which accounts were used for which women and when throughout the play.

So that is what I aim to do… For several posts down the road, but not one right after another, I’ll probably write about a small handful of accounts that I have read in the book. From there I will break down which accounts were used when in the play and which characters were involved… because honestly I think it would be interesting to see how the six women were created just based off of such wealth of information in a singular book.

Sometimes I will go in order, other times I will jump around… but eventually I will go through them all. However… those whose accounts did not appear to be used in the play I will have as a final post of the series so that they were not forgotten as well.

Hopefully by doing this, others who are thinking of auditioning for the play: A Piece of My Heart would have a better idea of what to use as research for their own study as I wish there was for me.