A new military courtroom drama, A Howling Wilderness, by John Chodes, gets its world premiere Sept. 6-30, presented by Off-Broadway's Theater for the New City in Manhattan.
Crystal Field, executive artistic director of Theater for the New City, is producing the work, directed by Don Price. A Howling Wilderness takes place in the Philippines in 1902 during the Philippine Insurrection and is inspired by a true incident in which U.S. Marine Maj. Littleton Waller is accused of executing 11 Filipinos without a trial. The charge is committing atrocities against civilians. He defends that the killings were justified because there was a planned mutiny. The U.S. Army engaged the services of the major to clear out the Philippines and make it a "howling wilderness."
According to director Price, "The play is also about a simmering rivalry between Maj. Waller and Army Gen. Jacob Hurd Smith. A Howling Wilderness makes a strong indictment of the armed forces' general policy of mass atrocities against native populations and the military's attempt to cover up these crimes," Price told Playbill On-Line.
"Basically the play takes place in a military courtroom," Price said. "It is played out in the courtroom and in a series of scenes and monologues by notables of the period, such as William Howard Taft, governor general of the Philippines at the time."
The cast of 10 includes Frank Enos, Dennis Turney, D. Michael Berkowitz, Christopher Benson Reed, George Cavey, Leonardo Nam, Edward Juvier, Duane Masey, Jerry Shulman, Carrie Wilshusen. Playwright Chodes penned the libretto to Molineaux, a musical with a score by David Reiser, about a 19th-century black prize fighter who had been a slave in the U.S. It was seen Off-Off-Broadway. Director Price staged A Chain of Summer Voices Off-Off-Broadway in 2000-2001.
Designers are Barry Axtell (sets), Kate Carroll (costumes), Stephen Petrilli (lighting), Sarah Rubio (sound).
Tickets are $10. Performances are in Theater for the New City's Johnson Theatre at 155 First Avenue at 10th Street. For tickets, call (212) 254-1109.
— By Kenneth Jones