Ready to recognize vets; Touring theater group to perform play version of book by Austin native

Published 1:08 pm Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Stephen D’Ambrose performs in Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried” at History Theatre. Photo by Scott Pakudaitis

Stephen D’Ambrose performs in Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried” at History Theatre. Photo by Scott Pakudaitis

Veterans Day is around the corner, and everyone’s doing their part to honor those who have fought for freedom. Riverland Community College is hosting a touring theater group showcasing a play based off Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried.”

“It’s a really great chance for us to bring some of that professional theater that usually people have to drive to the cities to see, here to Austin,” Riverland theater department director Lindsey Williams said.

The performance will take place at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Riverland’s Frank W. Bridges Theatre in Austin. It will be in Austin for one night.

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“The subject matter of the show seemed very appropriate. We’ve got Veterans Day coming up here,” Williams said. “It’ll be a really nice way to reflect upon [veterans’] service.”

“The Things They Carried” play is based on the 1990 book by O’Brien, an Austin, Minnesota, native. It tells of the experience of American soldiers during and after the Vietnam War, based on O’Brien’s experiences. Stephen D’Ambrose, directed by Leah Cooper, will perform the novel adapted for the stage by Minnesota storyteller Jim Stowell as a one-man show. The production will tour seven venues throughout Minnesota this November. The tour is presented by History Theatre in St. Paul, which received a grant making it possible for the group to tour Minnesota.

“I’m really excited,” Williams said. “[It] takes the same stories that are from the novel but it takes a more theatrical spin on them.”

Williams was excited when the opportunity presented itself, and was glad the students will have a chance to see a professional group in action. She said the tour coming to Austin was funded from the student life budget, and that she tries to bring a touring group to Riverland at least once per season.

“I think it’s a nice supplement to our season and really good for our students,” Williams said.

The book has been previously featured by the Austin Page Turners, and Williams was glad many community members already have a history with the novel.

“This is a chance for people to see it in stage-play,” she said. “I’m hoping that it will be a good chance for the people that do know the book to be able to explore it through a different medium.”

Tickets are $10 for the general public, are free for Riverland students, and Williams said they are selling fast. With a good community response so far, she is hoping for a good turnout on Thursday. The play isn’t the only thing taking place that night. After the performance, a panel of four will participate in a discussion comparing the book and the play. Rich Campbel, Dean Ulland, Steven D’Ambrose and Leah Cooper will be on the panel.

Tickets can be purchased at the door, on the website,, or by calling the box office at 507-433-0595.