Patrolman directs play downrange

Capt. Alysia Harvey
376 Air Expeditionary Wing

***image1***MANAS AIR BASE, Kyrgyzstan – A patrolman from the 569th U.S. Forces Police Squadron at Vogelweh spent two to three hours a night for the last two months, on top of his busy work schedule, directing 10 Manas Airmen in rehearsals for the play “Plaza Suite.”

After learning lines and taking on the life of fictional characters, the deployed actors performed Saturday and Sunday at Pete’s Place under the direction of Senior Airman Justin Floyd, deployed with the 376th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron.

Airman Floyd has been acting since he was 7 years old, and said he wanted to perform this play since he first read it when he was in college.
“It usually takes a lot longer to put on a production like this, so I have to give the actors their ‘props’ because they have put in a lot of long hours to make this happen,” said Airman Floyd, who is no stranger to this business, having been cast in a variety of television commercials and most recently offered a part on the show “CSI.”

“I really hope the base enjoys the show because of all the effort the actors have put into making it happen,” he said. “I am so proud of each and every one of them, and I know they are going to put on a great show!”

The play, written by Broadway playwright Neil Simon, has three acts, each featuring a different couple who stays in room 719. The first couple has been married 23 years, and she books the room to celebrate their anniversary. The result is not what she had planned.

The male half of the second couple is a Hollywood producer who, after three marriages, is looking for fresh fields. He calls and invites his now-married high school sweetheart, who idolized him from afar, to room 719 for a drink. During the meeting, he gets more than he bargained for.

The third couple is a mother and father who are in the hotel because their only daughter is about to be married. The daughter locks herself in the bathroom and won’t come out, and her parents fight over the best way to get the soon-to-be married daughter out of the bathroom and down to the ballroom where guests await the nuptials. They all communicate by passing messages under the bathroom door.

Airman Floyd said the most challenging part of any play was making sure everything falls into place, but that had been especially difficult here.
“Being in a deployed setting, it’s very difficult to get some of the things, like props and costumes, that you need,” he said. “I am very thankful for all of the support I’ve gotten on this production, but resources are limited here. That’s been the hardest part, but we have adapted and overcome and now we are ready for opening night.”

Master Sgt. Lewis Engstrom, 376th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron, agreed with Airman Floyd.

“The challenges we’ve faced as a group have been amplified since we are in an expeditionary environment, but we have persevered, and I think our hard work and dedication will be evident when our Manas family sees the show,” said Sergeant Engstrom. “I think we are all little nervous, but we are ready to get out on the stage and ‘git r’ done.’”

Airman Floyd says he’s also ready to “git r’ done,” adding that directing this play and getting to know the actors have been the experience of a lifetime.
“When we first started, we were 11 strangers. Now we’ve grown together like a family … The awesome time we’ve had together is what I will probably remember the most about this deployment.”