This production of TRACERS, conceived by JOHN DIFUSCO and written by the original cast, vincent caristi, richard chaves, john difusco, eric e. emerson, rick GALLAVAN, merlin marston, and harry STEPHENS with sheldon lettich, was presented by draw the sneck productions at usc's massman theatre, los angeles, December 4-8, 1996, produced under special arrangement with DRAMATISTS PLAY SERVICE.
It was directed by John Drouillard; sET DESIGN BY CHRISTOPHER BEYRIES, john drouillard, and scott freeburg; lighting by emma fitzgerald; sound by adam fillius; produced by WILLIAM VOGT, SCOTT FREEBURG, CHRISTOPHER BEYRIES, AND JOHN DROUILLARD; SPECIAL ADVISORS TO THE PRODUCTION WERE JOHN DIFUSCO, RICHARD CHAVES, DONALD BILSKY, MARK OSTERLOH, AND PAUL BACKER; production stage manager was CHRISTOPHER BEYRIES.
The cast was as follows:
Professor • craig bilsky
little john • scott donnelly
habu • gene fereaud
baby san • scott freeburg
doc • andy hungerford
scooter • chris solari
dinky dau • william vogt
sgt. williams • peter winfield
A composite or collage of interrelated scenes, the play follows the lives of a group of "grunts" as they move from basic training, on to combat in Vietnam, and finally to the shattering realization that their lives will be forever affected by the horrors that they have witnessed—and been a part of. Dealing with the grim realities of the battlefield—free-fire zones, trip wires, drugs, body bags, rat infested bunkers and the ever-present stench of death—the men become increasingly isolated from the "outside world" and from a society that finds honor in such mindless violence and destruction. Ultimately the play, through its gut-wrenching verisimilitude, becomes a moving and eloquent plea for sanity and forbearance, as it assails our minds and hearts with the grim message of what can happen when conscience is overruled by expedience, and clear reason by a warped sense of national purpose. - from Dramatists Play Service
BEHIND THE SCENES
My history with this material actually went back some 10 years prior, when I first heard about this show through a good friend who was studying directing in Michigan and asked me to perform in a collection of scenes and monologues from the show, which, at that point had just been published after enjoying its successful and impactful Los Angeles and Broadway runs.
Even during this early experience of class scene work, I was able to see quite clearly something I would come to know very well throughout what would be my long history with this play, that this material, from its very inception with the original cast at the Odyssey Theatre in 1980, has a life and energy of its own, that all you need do is earnestly rub this lamp and the ghosts for whom you speak will come help you tell the tale. There is such a deep truth that resonates so profoundly with both audience and cast when this material is performed that it’s even that much more surprising that we apparently need to keep telling ourselves tales like it, though, as a society, we never quite seem to grasp the lesson.
In any event, after my initial performance experience, I dove deep into Tracers myself, drawn to its fresh writing, its energy and honesty, and it wasn’t long before I started having a strong pull to direct the show myself.
After a couple of near misses, my opportunity for this would come several years later when I had the privilege of sharing the experience with some of the hardest, most generous artists I’ve ever known in this revival of Tracers as an independent production at The USC School of Dramatic Arts.
The show was still restricted in New York and Los Angeles from the original company's runs and world tours, but the show's creator, co-writer, and original director, John DiFusco, was gracious enough to reach out to me directly to, not only give us the green light to put the show up, but to also offer himself and his original cast mate and co-writer, Richard Chaves, as consultants.
This tremendous project culminated in five sold out performances at USC's Massman Theatre during a rainy Los Angeles December and was the beginning of a story that manages to continue to this very day.