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Scene at Racine: A performance by the cast of ‘Letters Home’ at Griffin Theatre

Andrew Neftalí Perez (front) with the ensemble of Griffin Theatre Company’s 10th anniversary production of "Letters Home." | Evan Hanover

“Letters Home,” the critically acclaimed drama written and directed by Griffin Theatre artistic director William Massolia, has returned to Chicago after a decade-long U.S. tour of duty. The compelling drama features the reading/dramatizations of actual letters written by U.S. servicemen and servicewomen serving in the Middle East, pieced together to form the production’s narrative.

Video by Eliza Davidson

“[The show] really gives audiences a portrait of the soldiers’ experiences in the two ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Massolia said.

Two of the show’s cast members — Leah Raidt and Peter Byrne — along with Massiola, stopped by the Sun-Times studio to present a pair of vignettes from the production.

“One of the things we always say about this show is that it’s not about the war itself. It’s not pro-war, it’s not anti-war. It’s about the soldiers who are over there,” said Bryne, who stars as U.S. marine Matthew Webster. “There are men and women over there sacrificing their lives in the hopes that something can [come out of all this] for the best. … One of the last lines of the play is, ‘there’s things about war that people who haven’t experienced it will never understand.’ You can’t write words as powerful as these [letters]. None of these people [depicted in the play] is a professional writer. They’re just kids. The character I play was 19 when he wrote his letters. Nothing is as powerful as that.”

Griffin Theatre Company’s “Letters Home” is playing in repertory with “Ghosts of War” at The Den Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee. For tickets, vist griffintheatre.com.

Scene at Racine is an occasional series of theatrical performances taped at the Chicago Sun-Times studios as part of our commitment to shining a light on Chicago’s vibrant arts and culture offerings.