Kids' Iraq Play Hits Big Stage After School Bars It

A group of high school students in a small Connecticut town wanted to perform a play telling the stories of actual soldiers in Iraq. But their school said no, afraid it might offend members of their community.

Although the students were silenced on their own stage in Wilton, Conn., they were given another -- Off Broadway in New York City.

Nick Lanza, a performer in the play, said it isn't about the war, it's about the troops.

"For us, it's pro-troops," Lanza said, "It's about the troops' feelings, what's happening to the troops, not whether or not war is an issue."

The troops, Lanza said, do not have a large enough voice -- "not at all." So the students set out to give soldiers the voice they lacked. They prepared a series of monologues for their school play using stories and words from actual American soldiers and Iraqis.

The students sifted through letters soldiers sent home, blogs Iraqis wrote, and footage of American troops who returned from serving in Iraq.

The teens said the experience was eye-opening because they were unaware of the true price of war.

"Families are destroyed and a lot of people all across America are just struggling to carry on without their fathers and their husbands and their wives and their sons," performer James Presson said.

But the students who were working to give the soldiers a voice soon learned their own voices were being silenced. The school's principal canceled the production, fearing the issue might upset members of their community.

But soon, another community in came calling. A New York City theater offered the students their prestigious stages in the Big Apple. Friday night, the students' performance at the Public Theatre in New York was standing room only.

Playing the Part

Presson played the role of Iraqi war veteran Charles Anderson -- and, in fact, the real-life Charles Anderson was in the crowd.

Presson was excited but nervous about playing the role because he has a lot of admiration and respect for Lt. Anderson.

Taylor Telyan will likely never meet the woman she portrays in the play. Telyan earned her role after discovering a blog written by an Iraqi for whom danger and death have become routine.

Lanza played Pvt. Marc Delgado. In the play, Lanza has the tough task of telling the audience that Delgado was killed by an IED.

The audience gave the performers a standing ovation. But more importantly for the students, they gave soldiers a voice.

ABC News' David Muir and Rehab El-Buri contributed to this report.