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The capacity, and limits, of the human heart and soul explored at Macomb Center

Posted: Nov. 24, 2012 at 10:50 a.m.

CLINTON TOWNSHIP - They carried malaria tablets, love letters, 28-pound mine detectors, dope, illustrated Bibles, each other. And, if they made it home alive, they carried unrelenting images of a nightmarish war that history is only beginning to absorb.

Since it was first published, "The Things They Carried" by Tim O'Brien has become an unparalleled Vietnam testament, a classic work of American literature, and a profound study of men at war that illuminates the capacity, and the limits, of the human heart and soul. This Literature to Life original, adapted for the stage in 2004, features 60 minutes of verbatim performance from this unique and important piece of American Literature at the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts on November 27 and 28 at 10 a.m.

This masterwork of contemporary literature is a collection of short pieces about the character, Tim O'Brien, and his experiences surrounding the Vietnam War. O'Brien presents a blurred line between truth and reality, fact and fiction, which makes his journey unforgettable. The actor, Billy Lyons, leads us through five of the short stories from the book including "The Rainy River" and "The Man I Killed." The audience lays witness to the complex issues of war and the universal struggle of the soldier. Surrounded by a pre- and post-show interactive discussion the audience explores themes including ethics, making choices and violence. This show is recommended for ages 14 and up.

O'Brien received the 1979 National Book Award in Fiction for "Going After Cacciato." His novel "The Things They Carried" won France's prestigious Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize. A native of Worthington, Minnesota, O'Brien graduated in 1968 from Macalester College in St. Paul. He served as a foot soldier in Vietnam from 1969 to 1970, after which he pursued graduate studies in government at Harvard University, and then later worked as a national affairs reporter for the Washington Post. He now lives in Massachusetts.

Literature to Life, The American Place Theatre's performance-based literacy program, presents professionally staged verbatim adaptations of significant American literary works. This educational program offers a new form of access to literature by bringing to life the world of books with performances that create an atmosphere of discovery and spark the imagination. Literature to Life has already provided a catalyst for learning and self-expression for over 400,000 students nation-wide. The theater, having received over 30 Obies and 16 Audelcos, is critically acclaimed as a birthing place for artistic endeavors at the crossroad of literature and live performance for 48 years.

Tickets for "The Things They Carried" are $10 for adults and $5 for students and seniors. Purchase tickets in person at the Macomb Center box office Monday through Thursday 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. and Friday noon - 6 p.m. Tickets and additional information, including a complete season schedule, are available online at or by calling 586-286-2222.

The Macomb Center for the Performing Arts is located on Macomb Community College's Center Campus at 44575 Garfield Road in Clinton Township, Michigan 48038.

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