When I recently came upon a news item that conveyed United States’ intention to reduce their armed forces in Germany by half, I was concerned. I expressed it to my wife.
“The US is planning to reduce their forces in Germany.” I said to her.
“Really? So how does that affect us?” she asked, disinterestedly.
“What do you think will happen to the Roadside Theater productions?”
“Oh! I didn’t think of that!”
We have been regulars at the Roadside Theater – a theater formed by, and mostly for, the US armed forces community in Germany – since the last few years, watching plays that have included memorable ones like Fiddler on the Roof, Honk, Proof, and more recently, Victor-Victoria.
Honk, an adaptation of The Ugly Duckling, was the first play we watched and I found it difficult to believe that an amateur cast could turn out such a professional performance. The handout had titles like Major, Lieutenant, and Captain against names of actors and actresses – these were people with a regular job, and yet they were so good and polished in the art of theater!
Could it be, I’ve sometimes wondered, that these people in the armed forces need – at times of peace, when work is routine – something they can indulge in with passion? Are these dramas on stage diversions or substitutes for the real dramas they yearn for in the battlefield?
Whatever the reason, one cannot take away any credit for the talent nurtured and passion spent in these productions. I only hope that the ones who are called back to the US are those who sit among the audience, not the ones on stage.
The US occupation of Germany has had one other consequence I am very glad about: an English library in Heidelberg, perhaps the only one of its kind in the near vicinity. Although the selection of books and magazines slants towards American authors and subjects, it still presents a valuable source of books and a favourite haunt on Saturday mornings.
So when I think of Iraq, despite all my distaste for the US led invasion, I cannot help wondering if, a few decades from now, there will be people who will derive such indirect benefits from the presence of US troops and their families in that country. If Bush or his advisors were to read these lines, they would probably want to kick themselves for not having thought of this ingenious justification for war and subsequent occupation of a weaker nation.