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Arts in the Armed Forces

Actors preform a scene from, “Jesus Hopped The ‘A’ Train,” March 20, 2017, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. The performance was brought to Yokota by the Arts in the Armed Forces, an organization who provides free theatre programming for active duty service members, veterans and their families. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Donald Hudson)

Actors preform a scene from, “Jesus Hopped The ‘A’ Train,” March 20, 2017, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. The performance was brought to Yokota by the Arts in the Armed Forces, an organization who provides free theatre programming for active duty service members, veterans and their families. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Donald Hudson)

Samantha Soule, actress, preforms during a scene of, “Jesus Hopped The ‘A’ Train,” March 20, 2017, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. For the performance, Soule played the role of Mary Jane Hanrahan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Donald Hudson)

Samantha Soule, actress, preforms during a scene of, “Jesus Hopped The ‘A’ Train,” March 20, 2017, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. For the performance, Soule played the role of Mary Jane Hanrahan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Donald Hudson)

Victor Almanzar, actor, preforms during a scene of, “Jesus Hopped The ‘A’ Train,” March 20, 2017, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. For the performance Almanzar played the role of Valdez. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Donald Hudson)

Victor Almanzar, actor, preforms during a scene of, “Jesus Hopped The ‘A’ Train,” March 20, 2017, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. For the performance Almanzar played the role of Valdez. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Donald Hudson)

The audience claps during the performance of, “Jesus Hopped The ‘A’ Train,” March 29, 2017, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. Over 120 members of Yokota participated in the event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Donald Hudson)

The audience claps during the performance of, “Jesus Hopped The ‘A’ Train,” March 29, 2017, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. Over 120 members of Yokota participated in the event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Donald Hudson)

Anthony Ramos, actor (left), and Andre Royo, actor (right), preform during a scene of, “Jesus Hopped The ‘A’ Train,” March 20, 2017, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. The performance was brought to Yokota by the Arts in the Armed Forces, an organization who provides free theatre programming for active duty service members, veterans and their families.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Donald Hudson)

Anthony Ramos, actor (left), and Andre Royo, actor (right), preform during a scene of, “Jesus Hopped The ‘A’ Train,” March 20, 2017, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. The performance was brought to Yokota by the Arts in the Armed Forces, an organization who provides free theatre programming for active duty service members, veterans and their families. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Donald Hudson)

Andre Royo, actor, preforms during a scene of, “Jesus Hopped The ‘A’ Train,” March 20, 2017, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. For the performance Royo played the role of Lucius Jenkins. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Donald Hudson)

Andre Royo, actor, preforms during a scene of, “Jesus Hopped The ‘A’ Train,” March 20, 2017, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. For the performance Royo played the role of Lucius Jenkins. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Donald Hudson)

Military members listen to actors during a Q-and-A session after a performance of, “Jesus Hopped The ‘A’ Train,” March 20, 2017, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. The performance was brought to Yokota by the Arts in the Armed Forces, an organization who providing free theatre programming for active duty service members, veterans and their families. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Donald Hudson)

Military members listen to actors during a Q-and-A session after a performance of, “Jesus Hopped The ‘A’ Train,” March 20, 2017, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. The performance was brought to Yokota by the Arts in the Armed Forces, an organization who providing free theatre programming for active duty service members, veterans and their families. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Donald Hudson)

An audience member talks with actors during a Q-and-A session after a performance of, “Jesus Hopped The ‘A’ Train,” March 20, 2017, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. Over 120 members of Yokota participated in the event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Donald Hudson)

An audience member talks with actors during a Q-and-A session after a performance of, “Jesus Hopped The ‘A’ Train,” March 20, 2017, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. Over 120 members of Yokota participated in the event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Donald Hudson)

Military member asks actors a question after the performance of, “Jesus Hopped The ‘A’ Train,” March 20, 2017, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. The performance was brought to Yokota by the Arts in the Armed Forces, an organization who providing free theatre programming for active duty service members, veterans and their families. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Donald Hudson)

Military member asks actors a question after the performance of, “Jesus Hopped The ‘A’ Train,” March 20, 2017, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. The performance was brought to Yokota by the Arts in the Armed Forces, an organization who providing free theatre programming for active duty service members, veterans and their families. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Donald Hudson)

Victor Almanzar poses for photo with audience members after a performance of, “Jesus Hopped The ‘A’ Train,” March 20, 2017, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. Over 120 members of Yokota participated in the event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Donald Hudson)
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Victor Almanzar poses for photo with audience members after a performance of, “Jesus Hopped The ‘A’ Train,” March 20, 2017, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. Over 120 members of Yokota participated in the event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Donald Hudson)

Yokota Air Base, Japan --

Members from the Arts in the Armed Forces (AITAF) performed the play, “Jesus Hopped The ‘A’ Train,” at the Taiyo Community Center March 29 and 31, 2017.

The play is a drama on moral responsibility and the modern prison system. It takes place in a New York State prison on Rikers Island, where a young man finds himself in prisoned facing murder charges and is befriended by a surprisingly kind ex-serial killer on death row.

“This was the first play I saw that moved me, before I saw this I used to think plays were only like Shakespeare,” said Samantha Soule, AITAF actress. “I’m so grateful for the chance to bring this to military members overseas.”

The performance featured: Christopher Abbott, known for his role in “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.” Victor Almanzar, former Marine and known for his role in, “Empire.” Anthony Ramos, known for his role in, “Hamilton.” Andre Royo, known for his role in, “The Wire.” Samantha Soule, known for her role in, “How We Got Away With It.”

Stephen Adly Guirgis wrote the play and is a Pulitzer Prize winning writer and producer known for “Birdman” and “Meet Joe Black.” Guirgis’ play, “Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train,” was nominated for best new play of 2002.   

The play was performed in an open-book style which was made popular in New York City.

The AITAF goal is to provide high-quality theatre programming for active duty service members, veterans and their families at US installations around the world by providing an enjoyable evening of shared theatrical experience.

“I enjoy this play,” said Ramos. “But I came out here for the military and their families.”

After the performance the actors interacted with the audience through a Q-and-A session, where they answered a variety of questions from tips on acting to what it’s been like for them performing for service members overseas.

“The Q-and-A session after the performance had such a positive effect and was a huge moral boost,” said Richard H. King, Yokota Air Base Community Centers assistant director.

Following the Q-and-A session there was a less formal meet and greet where the actors took photos with audience members.

“I’ve been wanting to do this for years now, because I’ve wanted to bring something back to the military,” said Almanzar. “I was a Marine so I know what events like this can mean to service members overseas.” 

During the actors time at Yokota they also visited various squadrons to visit with military members. Among the visited squadrons were the; 374th Airlift Squadron where the actors were able to walk through a static display of a C-130H Hercules. The 374th Civil Engineer Squadron gave them a tour of the firetrucks and equipment, and the 374th Security Forces Squadron put on a K-9 demonstration.  

“This visit from these famous actors will have a lasting affect on the audience and individuals they interacted with during their time at Yokota,” said King.