For Harry Pearson, his character — and all the other characters in “Welcome Home” — rings true.
“All the incidents in the play ring true,” said Pearson, 71, of Brookfield. "They ARE true. My character is real; my character in the play is a real person and the experiences were drawn from different people.”
And that’s important to Pearson. “Welcome Home” tells the true stories of four veterans of various eras. Pearson’s character Tom, like Pearson himself, is a Vietnam veteran. “He’s a guy who’s been around the block,” Pearson says of Tom. “He’s older but compassionate. He’s seen a lot, things that people shouldn’t see. And it’s affected him deeply.”
The same can be said about Pearson, who enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1967. He served in the 9th Division just south of Saigon, after going through intelligence and language training. He was in Vietnam for “one year and five days” and in the Army for “two years, seven months and five days.” “That was enough,” he said. It was the minimum of what a soldier could serve and he left, returned to college and went to graduate school. He taught high school English for five years, then worked for Friendly Ice Cream for more than 22 years in a variety of positions.
And he acted. He estimates he’s been in close to 30 productions, many of them musicals and some of them repeats. “I’ve played Caiphas in ‘Jesus Christ Superstar three times!” he laughed.
The character of Tom in “Welcome Home” is seen as a kind of father figure to the other veterans, who served in some aspect of the Global War on Terror in the Middle East. “He reflects authority,” Pearson said of Tom. “He doesn’t have any authority, but he’s wise, through the horror that he’s seen and the experiences with other people.”
Pearson wants people to understand “that people experience their own particular things in their own particular ways, but they’re not broken. We all develop scars over the wounds, but that scar tissue is tough.”
“Welcome Home” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10, and 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 11, at Workshop 13, 13 Church St., Ware. Tickets are $10 for veterans, $15 general admission, available online here or by calling 413-277-0294.