Bridget Kathleen O'Leary directs the drama, which was written in a unique 21st century way. Playwrights Kaner and Small have never met their Boston-based collaborator Barry Brodsky — their collaboration was done by way of the Internet, where they "virtually" teamed up to create the play.
According to production notes, "Half a world away from Vietnam three high school seniors are playing hockey ... for their lives. The year is 1966. The place is Minnesota. Upon graduation they will either go to college or end up in Vietnam. Watch the story of these boys and those around them as their chances dwindle and the miles to war become fewer."
It's "a memory play about a Vietnam veteran reflecting on his youth in the Midwest of the '60s while reconciling demons in the present."
The Boys of Winter will feature Sarah Carlin, John Grenier-Ferris, Michael Jorgensen, John Oxenford, Elizabeth Rimar and Zachary J. Winston.
The project was first developed by Kaner and Small in the early 1990s as a story, then it became a screenplay and then a play. But the collaborators sought to have the piece rewritten by a fresh voice, someone who could strip away elements of the earlier screenplay and make it more deeply dramatic — "with a stronger more universal antiwar theme." They searched the internet for a writer. Boston native Barry Brodsky, who served in the Army during the Vietnam War and is currently the director of the Veterans Upward Bound program at UMASS Boston, agreed to rewrite the play.
(The play is not to be confused with John Pielmeier's short-lived Vietnam-set Broadway drama from 1985, also called The Boys of Winter. The new property was originally called The Boys of Minnesota.)
"The entire development process was done by the three playwrights via the Internet and several conference calls," according to production notes.
In April 2007 the play had readings at the former Jimmy Tingle's Off Broadway space in Somerville, MA, and then went on to become runner-up in The Last Play Standing competition in Chicago in October 2007.
Brodsky was born, raised and educated in Boston. His stage plays have been produced in many cities; two have been published in anthologies, and a third, All Other Nights, was recently published. Two of his screenplays have been optioned by an independent Boston producer, and he teaches screenwriting classes at UMASS Boston and at Emerson College. He received a BA in politics from UMASS Boston and an MFA in theatre arts from Brandeis University.
Arizona-based Kaner, who served in the USAF Reserve, began writing plays out of college. He co-wrote and co-produced The Night of Broken Glass with award-winning playwright, the late Alice Josephs. Kaner also co-wrote the play Hardball based on his grandfather's life in a semi-pro baseball league in northern Wisconsin. It premiered in Memphis at Playwrights' Forum in 2008. He co-wrote the comedy Pets Are Human Too. He is also a screenwriter.
Small studied film at UCLA where he graduated with honors. For the next decade Small worked as a first assistant director in television and film. He's a screenwriter whose screenplay, "Blue Blazes," was awarded the Gold Medal for Best Screenplay at Houston's International Film Competition. Small was the co-creator of the Emmy-nominated and WGA award-winning Showtime original series "Penn & Teller: Bullshit!" He lives in Los Angeles with his family.
The Sept. 5 performance will benefit Veterans For Peace and Iraq Veterans Against The War.
Performances will play the Boston Playwrights' Theatre, 949 Commonwealth Ave., Boston.
For general information visit www.boysofwinterplay.com.