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Broadway director oversees Augustana’s winter play

November  25, 2013

Philip McKinley outside the theater in Davenport where he directed the play "Wit" last summer. (Photo courtesy of The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus/Todd Mizener)

Augustana College’s Department of Theatre Arts will present A Green River, by Aaron Randolph III, December 11-14 at 7:30 p.m. and December 14 and 15 at 1:30 p.m., in Potter Theatre on the upper level of the Bergendoff Hall of Fine Arts. Tickets are $11 for the general public; $9 for senior citizens, students and Augustana faculty/staff; and $7 for military personnel (active and retired).

Director Philip Wm. McKinley ’73, who directed Broadway’s Boy From Oz and Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark, said, “When I first saw A Green River in its first production at the QC Theatre Workshop, I was struck by its power and relevance. I had been asked to direct a production for Augustana, and I felt it was important to select a work the students would find interesting and relevant to their lives.”

In the play, Erik White has returned home from his time in the Army to a world he struggles to recognize. He must face the challenges of everyday life bearing the weight of his haunted memories, while trying to protect his wife and family from the war he can’t leave behind. The play mixes naturalistic dialog with a non-linear structure that allows the audience truly to experience a troubled soldier’s state of mind.

As Erik contemplates his fate on the banks of a green river, the realities of being a soldier, a husband, and an expectant father weigh heavily on his already troubled mind, and his life begins to flash before his eyes—Erik’s past and present collide in a mixture of memory and dream as murky as the old river itself. A Green River illustrates the importance of recognizing how Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is affecting a generation of young men and women volunteering to risk their lives for the greater good. Although many of these soldiers return from their deployment physically whole, they have emotional and behavioral health issues that stay with them for the rest of their lives. They struggle to regain “normalcy” in a society where mental health has not gained the equivalence of physical health in importance.

Joshua Malone ’14, a theatre arts major from Cabery, Ill., said, “A Green River is such a rare piece of theatre. It’s unflinching truth at its finest on stage. It’s the kind of show that just grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go until it’s over.”

Following each performance will be a talkback with the director, local veterans and David Manning, social worker/behavioral health case manager for the Community Based Warriors in Transition Unit at the Rock Island Arsenal.

Tickets can be purchased through the Augustana Ticket Office by calling (309) 794-7306 or visiting

Sam Schlouch
Senior Communication Director
(309) 794-7833