Published in The New York Times
In Hollywood, directors of war films have been known to send actors to boot camp. Toughen them up, give them a taste of military life. In the theater, productions about the service rarely go to such great lengths to ensure accuracy. But the team behind the new Off Broadway drama "Defiance," set at the North Carolina marine base Camp Lejeune in 1971, did everything short of enlisting.
Just as he and the director Doug Hughes consulted a nun about the Catholic school in "Doubt," their previous collaboration, they turned to experts for their latest Manhattan Theater Club production, which opened on Tuesday.In October, Mr. Hughes and his associate director, Mark Schneider, spent three days at Camp Lejeune, touring the grounds, talking to officers and reading back issues of the base newspaper.
In December, an actor, Jeremy Strong, spent three days there living in the barracks, eating meals with enlisted men and learning how to fire an M-16 rifle and a grenade launcher, among other skills.
Then the production hired Maj. David C. Andersen, from the Marines' New York City public affairs office. He put the actors through drills and taught them how to stand, march and salute.
Major Andersen spent an afternoon scrutinizing the costumes. One actor was wearing his campaign ribbons upside down. Another whose character was coming off a field exercise needed some mud and sweat stains. A third was wearing a Navy belt, not a Marine one. The major told the men how to roll up their sleeves and pants and suggested that they polish the black visor of their cover with lemon Pledge or Windex.
Pointing to an actor, Mr. Hughes asked, "How do you rate the captain's shoeshine?"
"Looks like he did it with a Hershey bar," Major Andersen replied.