Based on a true story, SAVAGES takes place in 1902, a few years after the United States invaded the Philippines to free them from Spanish colonial rule. But American troops now find themselves fighting a long, costly war against the people they originally came to liberate. Major Littleton Waller, an aristocratic Marine with a distinguished record, has been charged with killing prisoners of war—in an act he calls fully justified. Stricken by disease, anguish and a profound sense of betrayal, Waller is allowed special quarters to recuperate over the night before he receives his verdict. There he is guarded by John Hanley, a young corporal who is eager to penetrate the mysteries of counter-insurgency ethics and strategy. Hanley is assisted by Maridol Amaya, a young Filipina nurse who must balance her personal loyalties against her commitment to the healing arts. Army General Adna Chaffee, who set the court-martial in motion, is simultaneously at war with the insurgents, Washington armchair generals and American public opinion. Nelson treats all of her characters with sympathy and touches of humor. The play's fusion of meticulously researched U.S. military history with Asian mysticism yields a spellbinding vision of war and its casualties.
"Anne Nelson's historical drama has a lacerating beauty. Set in Manila in 1902, during the raging Philippine–American War, it manages to compress a continuous cycle of conquest and retribution into one night of charged encounters between a naïve young soldier, whose job it is to guard an ailing military officer on trial, and the Filipina nurse who is there to ease the accused man's suffering before his trial resumes again in the morning. Major Waller is like a figure out of Conrad—bloodshot and ravaged, accused of enigmatic crimes, half-mad with memory. Nelson, a former war correspondent, brings eloquence to this wartime drama." —The New Yorker. "SAVAGES is a must-see…It tells our story, and our history." —Filipino Express. "Playwright Anne Nelson knows how to put her finger on the pulse of the times…The events bear a more than uncanny resemblance to America's involvement in Vietnam and the current war in Iraq. The script is riveting…The authenticity in terms of the atmosphere and the history of the Philippines is no doubt a product of Nelson's experience as an international reporter in Manila." —BackStage.