Friday, August 21, 2009

"Coming in Hot" hit Tucson, September 24th-27th

Coming in Hot, a controversial new play adapted for the stage from Powder: Writing by Women in the Ranks, From Vietnam to Iraq, premiered in Tucson on Sept 24-27, at the Rhythm Industry, with great acclaim and strong opinions from audience members.

The 14 characters in *Coming in Hot* are performed by 37-yr acting veteran Jeanmarie Simpson along side classically trained violin-sound artist Vicki Brown. In the debut performance, a large screen was hung on the backstage so the projections could temporarily occupy space on the Beckett-spare set. Images of WACs marching in formation, details of shapely airplane parts interspersed with a woman's arms/hands/grimace, Iraqi civilians, Baghdad streets, and a soldier's memorabilia (photos from the "Dead Iraqi Album") appeared billboard large for a moment or a scene, and then flickered away.

for touring schedule, upcoming appearances and more information, see

“Coming in Hot” is military lingo for arriving with guns blazing. The play, adapted for the stage by Shannon Cain, Lisa Bowden, and Jeanmarie Simpson is based on the book Powder: Writing by Women in the Ranks, From Vietnam to Iraq (edited by Bowden & Cain, published by Kore Press, 2008). Both the book and the stage play offer a rare glimpse into the current status of women at work in the nation’s biggest corporation—the US military.

“A stage adaptation of Powder interests me deeply as a mother with a son who is about to be deployed for the second time, as a grandmother, and as a peace activist for 25 years,” says Simpson. “As an artist, the material cries out to be performed.”

Simpson, accomplished actress with 37 years’ experience on the stage, will perform all characters in the play. After the show, audiences will be invited to participate in a recorded open discussion about the complex issues raised in the play.

I approach a solo performance of Powder with more than a little trepidation and humility, knowing I will be channeling the voices of women who have literally been in the trenches and lived to tell the tale,” says Simpson. “It is in their honor, and in the honor of those who haven’t survived either end of the gun that I do this work.”

For more information about the performances, contact Kore Press at (520)-327-2127 or

More About Coming in Hot

The creative collaborative for Coming in Hot: Lisa Bowden (director, producer, writer), Vicki Brown (sound artist/musician), Shannon Cain (writer), Jamie A. Lee (filmmaker), Kaylene Torregrossa (production manager), Jeanmarie Simpson (actor/writer), Beth Weinstein (set & light design).

These women in these stories have seen conflicts from Somalia to Vietnam to Desert Shield. They were air traffic controllers, medics, Arabic linguists, sonar technicians and interrogators. The work is inspired by a photo album of the enemy dead; heat exhaustion on an afternoon in Mosul; fending off advances from Iraqi men; an attempted rape by a Navy SEAL; contemplation of suicide; and a spiritual meditation on preparing the bodies of fallen comrades for burial.

What people are saying:

Why is there no national debate on the fact that women are subject to institutional discrimination in the US Military? Nowhere else in this country are women so blatantly prohibited from certain jobs solely on the basis of gender. The American public should know what military women have achieved, what they have gone through, and what issues they face. Powder contributor Charlotte Brock

American military history as it hasn’t been glimpsed before—through the eyes of creative women who have served.—Sara Corbett, The New York Times Magazine

While soldier stories hold a hallowed place in media and literature, the voices of the women who serve are often subdued or drowned out altogether[...] [This] is an insider's look at what it's really like to be a servicewoman. —Andrea Millar, Curve magazine

The writings here are rich . . . the authors are sharp thinkers and strong soldiers; they are also tired, angry, & conflicted.—Bitch magazine

"Coming in Hot is a stunning collection of stories told in an array of voices, each with its own unique perspective on the topic of war. The stories—emotional, thoughtful and compelling—would be impressive in any context, but are made even more so by the fact that they come from those long-overlooked heroes—the women of the American military. In that vein, I think you should run to see this show; not simply because you'd enjoy it, but because it's your duty."—Jeremy Cole, Director and Amnesty International Activist, San Francisco

Women soldiers are a complex subject; these explorations can only broaden the conversation and deepen our understanding.—Peggy Bailey Doogan, painter, Tucson

About Kore Press

Kore Press is a non-profit literary arts organization in Tucson and one of the six remaining feminist presses in the US. Kore has been publishing the creative genius of women writers since 1993, in part to maintain equitable public discourse and to strike a balance in our historic literary record. Greek for "daughter," Kore (kor-ay) recalls the myth of Persephone—the story of a daughter taken into the underworld who re-emerges above ground half the year because of a bargain struck between her mother and the nasty fellow who runs the place down below. It is the daughter's return to the surface each year that marks the change in season. As a community of literary activists devoted to bringing forth a diversity of voices through works that meet the highest artistic standards, Kore Press publishes women's writing that deepens awareness and advances progressive social change.


  1. Terrific to see a new blog for 'Coming In Hot." Looking forward to reading comments. The issues explored in the book and play are complex and tend to strike deep chords. Not for sissies.

  2. Terrific write up for an important piece of work.

    One factual quibble: Jeanmarie has been acting on the stage for more than 30 years (incredible, no?), and not for the merely impressive 'more than 20 years' that you report.


  3. GREAT rehearsal today - Lisa, my sublime director was there, of course, but also Shannon, our piece de resistance. Having a director who isn't at all encumbered by the trappings of theatre traditions and a co-adaptor editor who is universe-class makes my job SO much easier. The material is like a deep cushion resting under a bloodied soul. It is so EASY to act writing of this caliber! Am I lucky, or WHAT?!!

  4. Wonderful week of rehearsals - Vicki is back from Italy and we have the soundscape mapped out for the first Act. She will conjure all manner of magical, transcendent auditoriness that will elevate the work. Beth's imagery and her eye for all things aesthetic feed the process every time she's with us. I'm going to miss her when she takes off for Australia! Really loving this remarkable project and the team of remarkable women who are making it happen. Glory BE!

  5. Incredible rehearsal last night. Working with Lisa, Vicki and Kaylene, we found a dynamic for the show's ultimate crescendo that's gonna knock everybody's SOCKS off.

  6. In the home stretch. The challenge accelerates...

  7. I came to this play expecting propaganda, but instead found truth, pure and simplistic and beautiful. As a veteran who has been to both theatres of operation, it was not an easy transition back into normalcy. In part, this is because we will never be "normal" again. It changes you in very profound ways. I don't speak much about my experiences. They are tucked away in a box, and every attempt is made to keep them there. This play gave a voice to all of the experiences and feelings in that box. It is a true gift.

  8. Jamie, thank you for writing this. You're the reason we do this. Lots of love to you.


  9. jamie--- thank you for your words and honesty. I am so heartened that the play has touched you in this way---just what we intended. to walk a fine line and hold all those truths at once. carry that for you and others for awhile. to say "yes" to them.

  10. I brought friends to this performance who knew not what to expect. But I did. Not because I read "Powder", but because I know how Kore Press gets involved: with both feet!

    Jeanmarie's performance of humanity's wide spectrum of experience seen and felt through the hearts and hands of women in the trenches touched and humbled me and my friends. All elements solid on their own, together a seamless orchestra of lights, electric violin, sounds of faraway scapes, deft acting, authentic voice and rich words. Words conveyed with a high level of artistry and grace. Words we should all hear.

  11. COMING IN HOT was amazing, Lisa! I applaud your vision, dedication, and brilliance. I loved the diversity of vignettes AND the connectedness of the vignettes. I loved the emotional progression of the vignettes and how the inevitable scenes -- the body on the table, the rape scene -- were treated with a tact that didn't diminish the gravity of the moment. And the minimalism -- the set, the lights, the music, the one-woman show -- worked like the best minimalism does: through the starkness and singleness a paradoxical largeness, an expansiveness, was achieved. A great experience! I keep reflecting on how frustrating and sad and ultimately terrifying it is that despite our many advances toward a more equal society women still face such primitive injustices -- which is further testimony to the importance of your work.

    All best,
    Chris Nelson

  12. That's great, Chris. I think that's what it's about - illuminating those injustices and ALL of the perspectives presented by the women of 'Coming In Hot.'

  13. A week after the performance, I keep thinking about those projected images: the vintage newsreel footage of women marching,the armed Israeli woman patrolling the desert. They were images that maybe once appealed to us, tapped into our psyches – women doing something as orderly as synchronized swimming or as heroic as Harriet Tubman. And later, the ashy silhouettes in the sand, inevitable collision of abstractions and reality.

    Against that dark, dreamy backdrop, Jeanmarie brought us women who were alive, fully present, recognizable. I loved each one of them. Loved the textures that cloaked their narratives – the music of the marketplace, the roar of jet engines, the requiems. Loved how each of them came forward on that stage to bear witness.

    Lisa, Shannon, Jeanmarie, Vicki – thank you for your works of adaptation and performance, delivered to us through craft, with enormous heart and intelligence.

    Deborah Fries

  14. Thank you, Deborah. I wonder if you can know what and how much your reflections mean to us. Lots of love. jm

  15. Without a moment's doubt that this project would be nothing short of wonderful, I hopped a plane to Tucson to experience it firsthand.
    I was not disappointed.
    The stage was simple and honest... a perfect backdrop to allow brilliant acting and music to breathe life into such poignant words written by amazing women.
    Women, dramatically different from one another in many ways but united by a common thread - each portrayed with her own voice, with genuine and loving truth. No matter the political views or biases one may bring into the theatre, truth is beautiful and moving.
    As is Coming In Hot.

  16. thank you C, for making the trip!

  17. I am jazzed about getting back into rehearsals today!