"Pieces of War" by Kenny Carnes
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"Pieces of War" by Kenny Carnes

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The best kept secret in music

Press


“Carnes' rhymes intensify and stylize the language like good poetry does, allowing complex observations and feelings we might otherwise resist to pierce us like darts.”
-The Phoenix, A&E Section

“Carnes’ playwriting has an enormous capacity to heal and transform.”
-Brown University

"...thought-provoking, touching, disturbing and moving."
-The Adrienne Archt Center for
the Performing Arts

“Carnes conquers all biases with a powerful performance that proves to be a victory for diversity. This one-man show touches a lot of people of our community and it is an honor to bring Kenny Carnes to the stage at Western Washington University.”
- Western Washington University

"The day was a true tribute to our men and women in uniform. Carnes' commitment and energy is truly inspirational."
-WPRO Talk Radio, Providence

“A vibrant, unforgettable performance.”
-The Worcester Telegram

“Carnes works on the audience in his performance and gets them to think about their own views. He confronts us with war, freedom, violence and the media position in wars and makes the audience aware of the social responsibilities war brings getting them to realize other views.”
-University of Alabama

“We are in awe. Carnes makes wonderful art.”
-Whatcom Peace & Justice Center

“The versatility of Carnes, demonstrated through the conflicted characters, astounds. The rhythm, verse and tempo of his words crafted and spoken in such rapid fire succession offer audiences a new voice unlike many contemporary artists. The plots and narratives deliver the perspectives of these multiple characters which felt as though this “man-against-himself” story of struggle and heroics was actually his own and not the work of his imagination. He creates a paradox that challenges us to find deeper truths for ourselves.”
-The Smith Center for the Arts
Providence College

"Think of Carnes as an EMINEM meets Eric Bogosian.”
-The Providence Journal-Bulletin

“The monologues reveal the harrowing, tragic consequences of war: the wrenching loneliness of survivors, the chaos and sheer human obliteration of modern combat, the discord between the platitudes of war-makers the disillusionment of war fighters and the general media express towards the plight of former and active soldiers. By hearing personal stories of people who have been affected firsthand audiences are forced to question their personal role in what is happening so far away."
-The Highlander

“Carnes captures our attention all too well.”
-East Bay Newspapers

“…this work makes the audience aware of our social responsibility.”
-St. Joseph College

“Carnes’s mission impresses me. He goes beyond what the Broadway play does, and gives us a performance that works on the audience on many levels. His performance compels us to act. It drives us to think. I’m reminded of Bertold Brecht because Ken, too, uses art as a hammer and forces us to choose.”
-Carol Autorino Center for the Arts

"Carnes is a remarkable performer. He bounces from multiple characters and shape-shifts through time and space with tremendous care. I was left astounded at his rhymes and rhythms how he was able to transition from mood to mood and character to character. It was stunning!"
-KAOR 91.1 FM RADIO


“A salute to Carnes for doing what he does.”
-Sergeant Major Mike McGhee,
Ambassador
U.S. Army Field Band

- various sources


December 6, 2007
Dear Kenny,

Recently, Brown University sought to engage our community in a collective effort to support our local war veterans and their families. Traditional methods toward gaining awareness of need and recognition of service for our veterans seem insufficient and thus the need for an innovative approach to honor them became apparent.

Your performance "Pieces of War: Rhode Island," served as a powerful catharsis for Rhode Island's men and women of the armed forces as well as a genuine forum for rich understanding among our civilian audience
attending this provocative evening of art and dialogue. Giving our veterans and their loved ones an
opportunity to effectively and safely voice their conflicted experiences through theatrical story telling provided an emotional gateway towards their continual reintegration progress. Your compassion as an artist,
strength of purpose as a leader and sensitivity to the real issues greatly impressed our faculty clinicians and administrators during your post-show interaction with our audience.

In a time when it is easy to be polarized your paradoxical poetry helped to integrate and unite a diverse audience. Your provocative playwriting has an enormous capacity to heal and transform. Thank you for exposing us to a richer understanding of service and the deeper meaning of "Support our Troops" through your
artful leadership in action. We encourage your continued success in fostering such positive hope, inspiration and progress for other communities throughout the country.

Sincerely,

M. Tracie Shea, Ph.D.
Brown University
(401) 455-1000 - Brown University


Friday, March 2, 2007

by
Brittany Crompton
Theatre Critic

Every soldier that ever tells a war story tells a lie. And those who say nothing tell the absolute truth.”
For Kenny Carnes, the explanation of such a puzzling comment is really quite simple. Those who have truly experienced the gruesome horrors of war know there can be no true depiction of what it feels like to have a bullet zing past your ear or to see lifeless bodies on a battlefield.
Kenny Carnes performs his one-man show, “War/Peace and the Anatomy of Being Human,” at Anna Maria College in Paxton Tuesday. (T&G Staff/PAUL KAPTEYN)
Soldiers cope with what they have seen by sensationalizing their realities into stories of heroism and bravery, Mr. Carnes said. Although bravery is an admirable characteristic, the truthful soldier knows in his heart that there is no mortal way to convey the sense of depravity and heartlessness brought on by warfare.
A writer, performer and Army veteran, Mr. Carnes said he believes there is more to learn from one soldier who says nothing than from 100 who tell stories.
Mr. Carnes’ message of the destruction caused by violence was revealed in his one-man show, “War/Peace and the Anatomy of Being Human,” at Anna Maria College in Paxton Tuesday.
Through a vibrant, unforgettable performance, Mr. Carnes showed that the visual remnants of violence are not the only side effects of war. The emotional and psychological trauma of those who have fought in war is too often forgotten, he said. While a body may be physically healed, the toll that violence and war takes on a human mind takes much longer to heal.
The show gave a heartfelt and true rendition of humanity by combining a commanding style of poetry with prose to tackle such questions as: What do we do with violence and what does violence really mean to those who have experienced it firsthand?
Mr. Carnes adeptly portrayed an array of characters, which the audience saw both on the battlefield and at home after the war. Each soldier was profoundly affected by what he saw at war, and the audience got to peer into the lives of the broken men, which had become shells of what they once were.
Although all the characters are from Mr. Carnes’ imagination, there is a hint of reality in them, he said.
“You will find that these could be our neighbors very easily. These are people we’ve seen on the news. It’s an original work of fiction, but so true to life,” Mr. Carnes told the audience.
It is because the characters are so true to life that the show has an eerie quality and might forever change the way one looks at soldiers.
Mr. Carnes’ 10 years of military experience as an officer gave him the understanding to capture the emotions of the characters, such as the young Southern soldier who watched his friend Beyer die on the battlefield, or the man from Brooklyn who became a soldier after losing his fiancée on 9-11. The Brooklyn man’s haunting lament, “I watched Innocence die,” spoke of both his fiancée, whose name was Innocence, and the innocence of America.
With a rap-like quality, Mr. Carnes transitioned from one story to the next without missing a beat, presenting crushed soldiers, overwhelmed by the effects of “psychological shrapnel” and the voices of their dead comrades ringing in their heads and calling out for remembrance.
Mr. Carnes’ said his intention in the performance was to “use it as a way to create awareness around the topical issues and to enlighten people who have never been in the military to what it’s like to serve in the military, and what duty really means.”
In 2003, Mr. Carnes said, he made the decision to leave the Rhode Island Army National Guard because he felt the Iraq conflict was not his fight and there were other ways he could serve. After seeing friends and family members sent to Iraq, he decided he would tell their stories.
“Instead of going into the theater of war, I decided to go into the theater,” Mr. Carnes said.
His gripping performance provoked questions that do not seem to have answers.
Although it took a year to develop the lives and experiences of his tragic, yet genuine, characters, Mr. Carnes said it took him only four to five months to pen the script. The struggles of his characters are mirrored in his captivating style of rhyme. Mr. Carnes said he used the rhymes to capture the “polarity of the country” that was present in 2003. “I thought poetics was a good way to synthesize that duality.”
What made his show refreshingly different from others that seek to portray similar ideas is Mr. Carnes’ unwillingness to use the theater as a forum to present his own political views. His intent was to present a paradox between the common, simple stories and the universal ones that speak to everyone.
“I find that people come with their own agenda and what to expect, whether that’s a speaker who is against the war or someone who focuses on being pro-soldier, pro-troops. But what I find is, when people leave they find a whole diff - The Worcester Telegram


February 28, 2006

Dear Kenny:

Thank you for bringing your performance work to the Smith Center for the Arts. Labels like “solo-play”, or “one-man show”, or “spoken word artist” seem limited to describe what feels more like an oral history or anthropological discovery. The versatility as an artist that you demonstrate through the conflicted characters presented astounds. The rhythm, verse and tempo of your words crafted and spoken in
such rapid fire succession offer audiences a new voice unlike many contemporary artists. The plots and narratives delivered from the perspectives of these multiple
characters felt as though this “man-against-himself” story of struggle and heroics was actually your own autobiography, and not the work of your imagination. Our audiences also appreciate a work of art that creates an apparent paradox that
challenges us to find deeper truths for ourselves.

We commend your triumph of a performance without political or personal agenda despite the context set in time and place as well as the obvious artistic risks involved. We join in celebrating a piece that offers multiple perspectives and emotional
juxtapositions that seem to ultimately suggest “united we stand.” Thank you for your service.

Sincerely,

John Garrity

Artistic Director, Blackfriars Theatre
Associate Professor of Theatre
- Providence College


November 30, 2005

"The Anatomy of War"

by Erica Easter
Staff Reporter

On Wednesday, November 16, spoken word artist Ken Carnes came to Regis to perform his one-man show entitled, "War, Peace, and the Anatomy of Being Human." The solo act focused on the experiences of veterans and active duty soldiers by using wartime narratives through the perspective of those in the military.

Carnes was ROTC in college, and was stationed in the 1st Cavalry Division Attack Helicopter Battalion in Ft. Hood, Texas. To create his performance, he researched war correspondence from World War II, the Gulf and Iraq wars and those that experienced 9/11. By speaking in prose and poetic monologues, Carnes gave voices to many separate and distinct characters ranging from a 9/11 widower, a battlefield medic, a homeless veteran, corporate CEO and the fictional Sgt. Freeman.

The monologues revealed the harrowing, tragic consequences of war: the wrenching loneliness of survivors, the chaos and sheer human obliteration of modern combat, the discord between the platitudes of war-makers the disillusionment of war fighters, and the general apathy the American public and media express towards the plight of former and active soldiers.

"By hearing personal stories of people who have been affected firsthand," commented RUSGA director of Social Justice, Kristi Schaefer, "it forced people to question their personal role in what is happening so far away."
"The idea was to develop a discussion that was thought provoking and challenging," said Dave Law, director of Student Activities. "We get a lot of dialogues, panels, movies, etc., but this gave us a different way to look at the topic."

Law encouraged students to attend this event because "[war] is a timely issue that is hard to understand at times, but this thematic performance enriched understanding." Schaefer also added, "I thought it was crucial that students attend this event because Ken Carnes has a gift for showing the human side of such complex issues like the death penalty and war."
- The Highlander


March 17, 2006
Dear Presenters:
On February 28, 2006 The Veterans Outreach Center at Western Washington University
hosted the wonderful and thought provoking performanceWAR, PEACE & THE ANATOMY
OF BEING HUMANby Kenny Carnes. Not only was this performance more than I and our
audience expected but the entire process fromplanning the event to pre-promotion to wrap was
done in a professional manner with great support from Kenny’s team. I would highly
recommend Mr. Carnes to any performing arts organization.
Many audience members came to the event with biases towards my veterans office some
with loaded expectations of the performance in general. Some thought Mr. Carnes would be prowar,
others hoped for an anti-war message; Kenny conquered all biases with a powerful
performance that proves to be a victory for diversity.
We had a wide audience ranging from peace protesters to men in uniform; all exited with
the same breathtaking expression on their face at curtain call. Each one of the characters Kenny
portrays speaks to the audience each on his or her own personal level and each audience member
had a favorite. This one-man show touched a lot of people in our community and it was an
honor bringingMr. Carnes to the Western Washington University stage. He was a professional
throughout the entire process and a great guy overall.

I highly recommend Kenny Carnes’ WAR, PEACE & THE ANATOMY OF BEING HUMAN, and we look forward to bringing this artist back to WWU with for more of his original
creations of dramatic verse.
Sincerely,
Kevin Stupfel
Western Washington University
Veterans Outreach Center Coordinator
(360) 650-6115 - WWSU


"Therapeutic theater for veterans"

Brown University’s Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior includes a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder research program that tomorrow is sponsoring "Pieces of War," a theatrical rendition in verse of the experiences of 12 characters created by playwright and former U.S. Army reconnaissance pilot Kenny Carnes.

The play’s purpose is to inspire interaction and dialogue with the audience and to help soldiers from any war find therapeutic relief in talking about their experiences.
The play has toured nationally to benefit soldiers and veterans and to raise community awareness of their traumatic experiences. Post-performance discussions will be held to invite input from former soldiers as well as the general public.

For more information about the play, visit www.kennycarnes.com.
The free performance is at 7 p.m. at the Ray Conference Center, Butler Hospital, 345 Blackstone Blvd., Providence. To reserve seats or for more information, call (401) 444-1938.

© 2007 – The Providence Journal-Bulletin
- Projo.com


"Former soldier becomes actor-poet Carnes performs his one-man show"

By Jana Peterson
Family Living Editor POCATELLO —

Solo performer Kenny Carnes once was an attack helicopter pilot in the U.S. Army. Now he’s a poet/actor. No, Carnes hasn’t renounced his career as a soldier to protest for peace across the nation. Instead he’s attempting to address the different pieces of himself — G.I. Joe, Corporate Joe, and Compassionate Joe, among others — and those same pieces of American society through his one-man show, “Pieces of War.” He performed that show at the Idaho State University ballroom Thursday night. It’s a show born out of conflict. “My sense was frustration,” he said, discussing the dichotomy of being a soldier and an actor. “I could have medicated that,” he laughs, “but I chose to live with (the tension) instead of going to war with it. It came out in a poetic dramatic piece.” His show starts with a Mark Twain quote: “I am not an American, I am the American.” Twain wrote that line at the time of the American Civil War. “It’s a comment on where we’re at as Americans, as a collective,” Carnes said. “We’re at a didactic civil war now, of ideology. But it was also important to put in the context of a creative acting piece because I held that within me ... the energy and logic of a warrior, the passion of the artist/poet.” In his show Carnes uses poetry and prose voiced by different characters. One moment he’s a peace protester, drawing the audience in with his argument, the next he’s a general, logically explaining the need to go to war. He talks to a girl named Innocence, who died at the World Trade Center, and finally comes to peace as a soldier by resolving to be a peace officer when he returns from war. Then shots ring out. The curtains close. Cameron Homer, ISU issues and speaker chair, said he was intrigued by the fact that Carnes was not advocating a particular stance, but instead invites people to different perspectives of the war. That doesn’t mean Carnes has any answers for the current war or any previous ones. Nor was he offering any easy answers to his audience last night. That’s never his intention. Like the ancient Greeks who used theater as a precursor to Socratic dialogue, Carnes wants his performance to spark intelligent discussion.

“People want me to tell them what’s right or wrong — that’s not where I’m at,” Carnes said in an interview before the show Thursday. “Ultimately, what you get from my show is contemplation. You might get closure to the story, but wrestling (with the issue). “It’s no passive entertainment.”

(c) 2005 - Idaho State Jouranl - Idaho State Journal


Discography

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Bio

Written largely in rhapsodic verse, this one-man show weaves a portfolio of stories from three generations of American heroes. Carnes examines violence and captures the narratives of American soldiers from WWII, Vietnam, and contemporary conflicts. ---- A son returns home from Iraq. His grandfather recalls his victories at Normandy. Memories of September 11th. A father becomes lost in his voiceless shame of Vietnam. ---- Based on interviews, observations, and personal experience, Pieces of War seeks resolution through conflict, captures understanding through contemplation, and unites audiences in a common dialogue surrounding the universal journey of the hero in us all.