On Sunday 11 November, Jake Gyllenhaal was one of the stars who appeared in the Arts in the Armed Forces event in NYC - an evening of staged monologues from American plays which was free to military service personnel and also open to civilians for a donation. I am thrilled that WDW had its very own reporters at the event who have done a brilliant job of not only enjoying themselves but also scribbling down full and thorough notes about the evening so that we can share it too. Of course, I mean Ted and Lisa!
Here, then, is their full account, along with scans of the programme. But, even better, this is just part one of two because Ted and Lisa also attended another Jake event at the weekend and details of that will follow in the next post. Over to Lisa and Ted (the photo below is of course of Ted, Lisa and a certain actor from the famous Nailed set visit):
'Ted and I attended the Arts in the Armed Forces charity event that Jake took part in on Sunday evening. The intimate 200 seat theater was filled with military members and their families but a small number of tickets were held aside for civilians who were willing to donate to this organization, which Ted & I were happy to do. Once again we found ourselves in the front row center and were blown away by the diverse group of actors that took to the stage reading passages from a variety of plays both old and new.
Shortly thereafter the event began with a lovely introduction by co-founder Adam Driver and some amazing readings by thirteen actors, including Frances McDormand and Michael Shannon among many others as well as two musical interludes by a talented musician. All the actors sat in folding chairs that were placed on the stage and watched and listened as each person performed center stage and joined the audience with great rounds of applause as each actor completed their reading. There was such a wonderful vibe on stage as well as throughout the theater. Similar to the Q&A earlier in the day, Jake scanned the audience a lot and seemed to look at every single audience member. I’m not sure if he does this because he is looking for people he knows or just likes to get a handle of the type of audiences he is speaking to – very interesting.
Jake was the 12th actor to read – he read the following excerpt from Arthur Miller’s play “All My Sons”:
It takes a little time to toss that off. Because they weren’t just men. For instance, one time it’d been raining several days and this kid came to me, and gave me his last pair of dry socks. Put them in my pocket. That’s only a little thing…but…that’s the kind of guys I had. They didn’t die; they killed themselves for each other. I mean that exactly; a little more selfish and they’d’ve been here today. And I got an idea - watching them go down. Everything was being destroyed, see, but it seemed to me that one new thing was made. A kind of…responsibility. Man for man. You understand me? - To show that, to bring that on to the earth again like some kind of a monument and everyone would feel it standing there, behind him, and it would make a difference to him. (pause) And then I came home and it was incredible. I…there was no meaning in it here; the whole thing to them was a kind of a - bus accident. I went to work with Dad, and that rat-race again. I felt…what you said…ashamed somehow. Because nobody was changed at all. It seemed to make suckers out of a lot of guys. I felt wrong to be alive, to open the bank-book, to drive the new car, to see the new refrigerator. I mean you can take those things out of a war, but when you drive that car you’ve got to know that it came out of the love a man can have for a man, you’ve got to be a little better because of that. Otherwise what you have is really loot, and there’s blood on it. I didn’t want to take any of it. And I guess that included you.
It was a very moving piece and Jake read it from what looked like a fairly small piece of paper that he had folded in his pocket.
When the readings were complete Adam Driver stepped up to thank the actors who all stood together and got a big round of applause. He also thanked the audience which prompted the actors to applaud as well – a happy occasion indeed! It was a very relaxed and intimate event where the actors and audience felt comfortable mingling together, this seemed to be the goal of the organizers who wanted an event that focused on the readings and what they meant.
The actors milled about a bit afterward in the aisles of the theater and on stage – Jake was on stage chatting with his fellow actors so we chose not to interrupt (although that was hard to do)! We filed out and chatted with other patrons on the sidewalk in front of the theater. When Jake came out he had on his jacket, backpack and Red Sox cap and greeted two friends who looked to be waiting outside for him. He talked to them for quite a while and then we moved along with some of the crowd and headed to the private reception being held at the Cowgirl Café which was around the corner. Jake never made it to the reception but we had a fantastic time talking with many people there – from actors to musicians to Marines. When we spoke to William Jackson Harper we learned that some of the actors did not receive their reading assignments until as late as that very morning. We noticed that Jake read his excerpt right from the paper with not many moments looking up at the audience. We thought that not only was he probably not given a lot of notice regarding his reading but also having a matinee performance that day he must not have had a lot of time to digest the material. But he did a great job nonetheless as did everyone!'
Part 2 to follow! Thanks so much to Lisa and Ted for going to so much trouble.
Jake was also in the Sunday Times on Sunday - thanks to IHJ for the scans.