Really? by the famous Tom Hanks

Tom Hanks about Shakespeare

I’m Tom Hanks I’m an actor and I’m
playing Falstaff in Shakespeare center ofLos Angeles production of Henry IV on this very stage that has infact been built by veteransI’m Rondi Reed I play Mistress Quickly wh oruns the tavern in the play Henry Four.They informed us that we were going to
be on the grounds of this beautiful VAfacility in West LA. The idea that the
veterans in transition were going to beour running crew and they actually built
the sets and they literally carved atheater out of the woods, out of nothing.

Guys and women who have servedour country and our transitioning into
whatever that next phase of their livesare. Wouldn’t it be great if some of them
went into this very line of work to sameone I’m in?So my name is D.J. am I served in the US
Army. I deployed to Iraq for about a year.I was in the United States Navy. I did
go to Guantanimo Bay I was asecurity guard there.I was in United
States Marine Corps from 1981 to 1985,on the Marine Corps on the silent drill
team and we traveled all around the world.I learned about the West L.A. VA through another veteran who was homeless,and I was struggling with a drug addiction at the time.Pretty much got wrapped up into theL.A. lifestyle, so the transition from
military to civilian was kind of rough for me.

I was really down, really
depressed and I had suicidal thoughts,the civilian life has really has really
kicked me pretty hardI suffer from PTSD.And at one point I
was homeless.I was like in a little cocoonI was closed off to the world.Shakespeare Art Center was probably the
best decisionI’ve made within the last a couple of years.

Now I get this
opportunity and I thought wow this isgreat do I jumped on the chance to do it
I am here for mental health reasons soit calms me.The Los Angeles County
Department of Mental Health issponsoring a big piece of the veterans
and art program and they areunderwriting this special class that
we’re going to be giving veterans.It came out of all of the conversations was that
the veterans really felt that what theywanted most of all was a job. A job that
had meaning a job that was associatedwith a mission, a job that would help them
have a sense of identity and a sense of purpose.I mean you tell a veteran, you tell any military member.”Hey I need this hill, you know I need this hill attacked”and that hill is gonna be
taken.I work as a stage hand and pretty much what we do is
we get the props ready. We organize theswords everything that’s gonna be used
during the play.I’ve done some building, I’ve done carpentry work, I’ve
done some lighting, I’ve done irrigation.

They learn how to set up staging. They
learn how to do sound. They learn how towork on costumes. They learn how to work
on makeup.This program has helped me a lot,like today I’m working on sewing
because I can calm my mind.This experience has helped me to interact
with people in a positive way, it’s beenvery therapeutic for me.by working
outdoors I felt a sense of closeness with God.All of us have broken a sweat,
all of us are putting in an honest day’s work.and got an honest days pay.There needs to be some kind of place wherea veteran has gone through that kind of
experience can come back home and have achance to transition.The overwhelming
lesson for me, the thing that I wouldwant to shout from the rooftops is, do
not ever underestimate a veteran ever.it’s one of the finest theaters I’ve
ever worked in, built by these veterans at this facility.And to our surprise Tom
Hanks he introduced himself to us and heshook all of our hands and so we’re very
happy about that you know what I meanand we’re still talking about it today.

I just love being able to to answer any question they have,take any picture
with them and help them move on toperhaps doing this very thing for a
living.if you haven’t gotten a ticket yet, get one soon!For those of you who
already have tickets, you’re going to seea really really great show you’re going
to see Shakespeare as it should be done.You’re also gonna see it in one of the
most beautiful theaters that I’ve ever worked in.And the cool thing about all
of it is, is that you are by buying yourtickets and by coming to the show. You
are supporting the veterans who haveworked so hard to create this theater
here.Hi my name is Kevin I’m a United
States Army veteran.I’m the United States Navy veteran.Welcome to Henry the fourth and thank you guys again for supporting the Veterans in Art program.And thank you for supporting Veterans in the Arts program.A great thank you from all of usto all the veterans who have helped make this
possible. Trees have been moved, the earthhas been altered, the stage has been
assembled.

The theatre is actually hereall because of you. Thanks so much for investing the time with us in orderto make all this possible. Enjoy the show.