Savage Wonder

Christopher Paul Meyer

Savage Wonder is a podcast about warriors and artists. It features long-form, one-on-one conversations with people who have a foot in both the world of the artist and the world of the warrior. It is produced by the Veterans Repertory Theater, a creative hub for talented veterans and world-class performers to create compelling live theater and events. read less

Chris Sparks
4d ago
Chris Sparks
Chris Sparks is an Army veteran who could speak Arabic, a former police officer and current stand-up comic. More than that, he's an incredibly affable, humble, intelligent and ambitious guy. His documentary Thank Me for My Service: A Veteran’s Cry for Help is a tough watch. It is tough technically – intentionally – and it is tough because of its subject matter – which is Chris himself. The film captures a two-day period this past August when Chris finds himself in a manic state due to the meddling and persistent worrying of his family. Their worry is not without cause – Chris has a TBI and is bi-polar. But Chris’ focus is on developing his one-man live show (of Thank Me For My Service) and he needs a few days of isolation to develop it, but instead has to navigate psychiatrist appointments and arguments. It should be the stuff of comedy – especially since Chris is a stand-up comic. It screams for the irreverence of Jack Nicholson or the fevered outbursts of a young Michael Keaton. Chris opts to take it all at face value and seriously – which seems very reasonable considering that the events of the film are still so fresh and raw in his mind. If comedy is tragedy plus time, the film needs time. That said, it is undoubtably raw, poignant and memorable, a worthy addition to the conversation about PTS, suicide prevention and the treatment of veterans in the healthcare system. With time and distance from these events, I think there is comedic gold in Chris' life and experiences. But Chris is just getting started. I think his next steps will be ones to watch, and I, for one, can't wait to see what they are.
Kristopher Battles
Nov 21 2022
Kristopher Battles
Kristopher Battles is a contemporary fine artist creating artworks in a variety of media which honor the highest traditions of representational art.Battles graduated with a BFA in Painting from Northeast Missouri State University (now Truman State University) in December 1991, and earned his MFA in Illustration from the University of Hartford in September 2013.Originally serving as a Marine Reservist from 1986 until 1996, Battles became a Marine combat artist after reenlisting in 2006, and deployed to Overseas Contingency Operations several times to create art for the United States Marine Corps, serving in that billet until 2014. From 2014 until 2019, Battles served as a civilian combat artist for the Naval History and Heritage Command at the Navy Yard in Washington, DC. Battles is currently the Marine Corps Artist in Residence, on staff at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, VA.His work has been featured in publications and art venues across the country, including the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. as a part of the art show “Fly Marines! The Centennial of Marine Corps Aviation 1912-2012” from January 2012 through January 2013.Battles’ work was featured on the cover of Leatherneck magazine, March 2008, December 2009, and August 2020. His illustrations for the “Sharing the Courage” series were featured in Marines magazine, Oct/Nov/Dec 2009, and in a Marine Corps Times article “Heroics illustrated, comic-book style” by James K Sanborn, March 22nd, 2010.Battles was featured in the New York Times Arts & Leisure section on July 18th, 2010, in an article by Carol Kino entitled, “With Sketchpads and Guns, Semper Fi”. Battles has been invited to be a guest speaker and artist for many events and organizations.  He was featured at USS Constitution Museum, Boston, MA during Marine Week in May, 2010, and his work was also on display May 5th 2010 in the John F. Kennedy School of Government for Harvard University. Battles was also guest speaker at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, January 28th 2011, and was forum speaker at The Army and The Navy Club in Washington, DC March 2nd, 2011.Battles was featured in ABC ‘s “Persons of the Week: Combat Artists” with Charlie Gibson, September 2007, along with fellow combat artist and Hartford MFA alumnus Michael Fay, and combat artists Charles Grow and Col Charles Waterhouse.Battles is a 2008 and 2010 recipient of the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation’s John W. Thomason Award for excellence in combat art, and the 2010 and 2011 recipient of the Marine Corps Combat Correspondence Association’s Merit Award for Combat Art.Follow the Marine Corps Combat Art Program hereFollow Kris here
David Tucker
Oct 31 2022
David Tucker
A Seattle-based playwright, photographer and novelist, David A. Tucker II has had several of his plays produced and/or developed at theaters across the nation, including Seattle Repertory Theatre, Abingdon Theater Co., ACT, Tacoma Actors Guild, and Foothill Theater Co. His theatrical works include The Nude, Persistence of Vision, Another Day in Baghdad (about his military experiences in Iraq), Under the Skin and North Wind Blowin’, a play with music. David received 2016 GAP funding for Smoke, a project where he interviews, photographs and videotapes members of Ebola burial teams as well as medical personnel who combatted the disease, an Ebola survivor, and staff on the Dead Body Management Teams in Liberia. His intent is to capture this challenging time in West African history by creating a theatrical work that weaves not only dialogue based upon these interviews, but also black and white photographs and video footage of the Liberian people and the locations in which these events took place.David has also been creating fine art and documentary photographs since 1980.His photographic series, The Human Landscape, explores the human figure in studio and natural environments. In 1995 he began DANCEWORKS, collaborating with ballet and modern dancers to capture the transitory beauty of dancers in motion. He continues to explore and add new images to each photographic series.The images in DEPLOYED: Haiti, Kosovo, Iraq were taken from 1994 - 2004 while a member of the U.S. Army.Tucker has exhibited and sold his photographs at a number of galleries and museums throughout the nation, including the Springfield Art Museum, Blue Sky Gallery, Photographic Center NW, M.I.A. Gallery, New York Center for Photography, Lightbox Photography Gallery, the DeMatteis Gallery, Silver Image Gallery, PhotoZone Gallery, Lumina Gallery and Photography West Gallery. His works may be found in several private collections.As both a fine art and journalism photographer, his images have been published in numerous publications including Black & White Magazine, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, The Orange County Register, The Seattle Times, American Theatre Magazine, Dramatics Magazine, InTheatre Magazine, and the book, "Theater in America."
Jason Pizzarello
Aug 22 2022
Jason Pizzarello
Jason Pizzarello is a Connecticut-based playwright and co-founder of Stage Partners, a digital licensing house for new plays (yourstagepartners.com). He is currently developing his plays Lost Near Daytona, Found (Semi-finalist, Arts in the Armed Forces Bridge Award) with The Tank /dir. Meghan Finn, and his outdoor immersive children’s play Off the Trail (grant recipient, Frances R. Dewing Foundation) with CT’s Stamford Museum & Nature Center. Other plays include: Bethel Park Falls (Everyday Inferno Theatre Company/NYC Central Park, published with Playscripts); After People Like You (Blue Riders at Classic Stage; Finalist, AITAF). He has also developed his writing with Soho Rep Writer/ Director Lab, Irondale Ensemble, Fordham Alumni Theatre Company, HERE Arts Center, The Flea Theater's Pataphysics, New Group's Playwriting Workshop, and the Veterans Writing Workshop. Over thirty of his plays for young actors are published and have been performed over 3,000 times in all 50 states and in over 25 countries, including a Norwegian and Bengali translation. When he’s not writing, he proudly serves as a logistics officer with the New York Army National Guard, and is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan/ Operation Enduring Freedom.Jason's military-themed drama BRAT won VetRep's inaugural full-length playwriting competition. BRAT is the story of a mother and son - both veterans of the forever war in Afghanistan - as they struggle to reintegrate into the civilian world and mend their broken relationship. Jake signed up to follow in his mother’s footsteps, but doesn’t get what he expected when he returns home to confront everything, and everyone, that’s been waiting for him.Our judges said the following about BRAT: "Mysterious, emotionally sound, haunting — it’s also clearly a very personal piece. The language is lean and spare, the opening is terrific, and the last scene is gripping."Follow Jason hereStage Partners website
Phanesia Pharel
Jul 25 2022
Phanesia Pharel
This week on the Savage Wonder podcast…Phanésia Pharel is our third-place finalist in our inaugural full-length playwriting competition for her drama LUCKY. About her play, our judges said, "Beguiling, moving, deeply satisfying — and genuinely original. Her theatrical devices were both enchanting and extremely credible. She offers a fresh look at Creole and Haitian cultures and how both have been affected by wartime. The pacing and dialogue are terrific, and the end of the play delivers a richly-earned gut punch." Phanésia is a playwright from the great state of Florida and even greater city of Miami!! Grounded in poetry and Afrofuturism she often writes about the divine metaphysical dilemma of colored girlhood. Her plays span revolutions, islands, and explores futures built on love by centering women's pleasure, safety, and joy. AKA hopeful and magical survivor stories for the young, poor, women, colored, and those audacious enough to be all of the above. Full lengths; LUCKY (developed at New York Stage and Film) . BLACK GIRL JOY (Frank Moffett Mosier Fellowship for Works in Heightened Finalist Prize, Jane Chambers Finalist, Bay Area Playwrights Festival Finalist, O’Neill Semi-Finalist). Other Honors include City Theatre National Short Playwriting Finalist and Blank Stage “Future of Playwriting” Semi-Finalist. Phanésia is a member of the Obie award-winning EST/ Youngblood group. Commissions include City Theatre Miami, the Latinx Playwrights Circle & Pregones/PRTT Greater Good Commission and Thrown Stone Theatre. Residencies include New York Stage and Film, Echo Theater Company of Los Angeles, the Playwrights Center Core Apprenticeship and the Inaugural 068 Magazine Thrown Stone Theatre Fellowship. Publishing: Concord Theatricals, Smith and Kraus Best Plays of 2020, Reset Coalition 2020 Anthology and the City Theatre Anthology. BA: Urban Studies, Barnard College of Columbia University.Follow Phanésia here.