Thursday, Oct. 1, 2009

Censored On Final Approach

Marquette Brings WWII Drama To The Stage

By Russ Bickerstaff
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Just this past June some 300 surviving WWII Airforce  Service Pilots finally received Congressional Gold Medals. It had been some six and a half decades since they had served. From what I’ve read online, it would appear as though these women didn’t serve in Europe . . . 38 of them were killed in the line of duty though. They were trained to help largely with distribution. Planes would roll out of the factories and need to be delivered to US Military bases. Like so many other male-dominated areas of the workforce during WWII, women took over positions for men serving overseas. The pilots’ list of duties sounded really interesting . . . at first they were only ferrying planes to military bases. Before long, they were also testing new aircraft and training male pilots. There had to be a degree of friction there, particularly if some of these guys weren’t particularly okay with the idea of women flying in the first place. They also towed targets for anti-aircraft training. As one could probably guess, some of those guys training on the antiaircraft weapons had deliberately come pretty close to hitting the women dragging their real targets across the sky. There was quite a bit of drama on the ground.



That drama makes it to the stage this weekend as Marquette University Theatre presents Censored On Final Approach. The play tells the story of women who traveled to Texas with their own funds in an effort to join the military as fighter pilots. There were 1,830 of them. They came from diverse backgrounds . . .from actresses to debutantes to factory workers to teachers and nurses. It’s one of those stories that doesn’t really make it into textbooks, but probably should be. At the very least, it’d make the story of one of the largest single wars in history that much more interesting. All a playwright has to do is stage some of the dramatic possibilities here and let the project take off. The play is written and directed by Marquette University Artistic Associate Professor Phyllis Ravel. Ravel has an impressive amount of experience to draw from in making this quite a bit more than a history lesson.

Marquette University Theatre’s production of Censored On Final Approach
opens tonight at 7:30pm and runs through October 11th at Marquette's Helfaer Theatre.

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