If you’ve ever wanted to see a live Tom Hanks performance, now is your chance—and you can show appreciation at the same time to US military veterans who were given a chance to reassimilate into society through a pathway into theater.
The Shakespeare Center of LA has been hosting a production of “Henry VIII” that is orchestrated entirely for the benefit of 40 vets who have found therapy, solace, and a meaningful job in the theatrical field.
The breathtaking newly-built stage located in the lush Japanese Gardens on the West Los Angeles Veterans Association campus, was built entirely by homeless or troubled vets who are in transition. Some of the former service members are in the play itself, performing alongside Academy Award-winning actor Tom Hanks, while others have found catharsis while working in sound, makeup, lighting, stage construction, or production.
“I was like in a little cocoon, I was closed off from the world,” recalled one of the vets, describing his mental health struggle before the production. “This experience has helped me to interact with people in a positive way, it’s been very therapeutic.”
“I [heard about] this opportunity and I thought ‘wow this is great,’ so I jumped on the chance to do it,” said a formerly homeless participant while sewing costumes. “I am here for mental health reasons so it calms me.”
When asked why Hanks was such an avid supporter of the program, he said: “Guys and women who have served our country and are transitioning into the next phase of their lives; wouldn’t it be great if some of them went into the very line of work that I’m in?”
The performance, which was orchestrated in collaboration with the Veterans Association, will be showing among the trees and under the stars until July 1st. If you would like to buy tickets, you can visit the Shakespeare Center’s website.
(WATCH the video below)