- Elizabeth Preston, Interim President, Westfield State University, Westfield, Massachusetts
“The Draft could not be a better introduction to a conflict that today's students know little if anything about. Alternately poignant and electrifying.”
- Steven Bauer, Emeritus Professor of English, Miami University, OH
The military draft during the Vietnam War created an agonizing dilemma for millions of young Americans. And the choices they made changed their lives forever. Peter Snoad’s award-winning play, The Draft, dramatizes the real-life stories of 10 of those young people.
You can now purchase a video of a filmed performance of The Draft. It includes a special feature of selected clips on key topics (e.g. race and class; women, the draft, and war). A free companion study guide and the script of the play are also available as resources.
As an educator, you’ll find The Draft to be a powerful tool for exploring a range of issues – from patriotism to the impacts of war and militarism, from the changing role of the news media to the power of social movements. You can show the video, have students read the script together in class, and use the study guide to plan and focus course work.
The play – based on Tom Weiner’s book, “Called To Serve: Stories of Men and Women Confronted by the Vietnam War Draft” – is framed around a study tour of modern-day Vietnam by a group of U.S. college students. One of their pre-trip assignments is to interview people about their experiences with the military draft during the Vietnam War. The stories from those interviews – of eight men and two women – are interwoven throughout the play.
George Williams, Al Miller, and John Bisbee accepted the call to serve, saw combat in Vietnam, and struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and societal rejection after their return home. Tom Gardner won conscientious objector status and organized for civil rights and against the war. Randy Kehler resisted and went to jail. Jay Holtzman chose self-exile in Canada. Roger Wallace was prepared to leave the country, too, but the draft ended before he was called up; he was active in a college anti-war group. Frank Marotta got a medical deferment with a fake x-ray provided by his family doctor and became a draft counselor.
Of the two women featured in The Draft, Diane Clancy was a campus anti-war leader and counseled traumatized veterans. Penny Rock worked as a nurse at a U.S. military hospital in Vietnam, and saw the horrors of war in the maimed and dying young people she cared for. She, too, suffered with PTSD.
Together, their stories give voice to the passion, the anguish, the joy, the inspiration, and the intense personal and collective struggles of a generation.