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
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
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
“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
“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.