At the Whitefire Theatre in Sherman, a new one-person show by Brian Delate reveals the guardian angels, both human and otherworldly, that redeemed him after the Vietnam War.
By John Lavitt
Sherman Oaks, CA (The Hollywood Times) 2/2/23
For what greater fool can there be than the man who has obtained this rare human birth together with bodily and mental strength and yet fails, through delusion, to realize his own highest good?
— Adi Shankara
As part of Solofest 2023 at the Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks, Brian Delate performed a one-person show on Sunday, January 29th, that delved deep into his soul and psyche. When it comes to revealing yourself on stage, it is not easy for any performer to strip away the layers of persona and uncover a profoundly intimate experience. Imagine the questions that arise when you make such a decision: How will a random audience receive my secrets? Will an experience that changed my life be translatable to others? Will they even believe me?
In Guardian Angels, Brian Delate relates the spiritual journey that he has taken since returning home from the Vietnam War. Far from spiritual at the outset, Brian returns home shattered in psychic pieces like so many young men after that violent conflict. Wanting only to escape his memories and feeling that he deserves such an escape, he sinks into alcoholism and addiction. Brian might never have returned to a state of sanity if it had not been for his guardian angels, both on this earth and transcending beyond the galaxy.
Before the transcendence happens, Brian encounters two guardian angels in human form. Thank God for these souls on earth because Brian is in a state where he desperately needs such guidance. In Vietnam, all he thought about, day in and day out, was living. How do I survive? Upon returning “home” to a cold welcome, all he thinks about is dying. Why bother to live?
The guardian angels begin to shift this perspective. The first is a police officer who prevents a brutal bar fight from turning into a lengthy prison sentence. Seeing the pain of the broken young man, he gives him a second chance. The second guardian angel is a teacher who takes Brian under his wing and teaches him to value language and words. Overcoming fear and learning disabilities, the young man discovers the joy of reading. Through learning and grace, he sheds some of the Vietnam rot and finds comfort in his own skin again or perhaps for the first time. As precisely directed by Deb Hiett, Guardian Angels asks and raises many profound issues about an individual’s rocky journey into recovery.
However, when war has broken you, sometimes earthbound guardian angels are not enough. With courage and conviction, Brian tells a story about what happened to him when he encountered alien beings as a young man that took him beyond the stars. As opposed to anal probes and invasive abductions, this transcendent experience was the stuff of magic and angel dust (not the drug, although the account of what happened would make anyone wonder).
What happens next honestly needs to be experienced firsthand. Any recounting of Brian’s alien adventures or angelic escapades would cheapen the tangible reality and the fervent emotion expressed in the show. However, the lessons from this otherworldly experience can be conveyed: The messages are simple and direct.
Given the power of the messages, not all are revealed at once. Brian Delate is still on a journey of revelation as the jewels of that experience continue to appear. Still, the lessons already uncovered are worth sharing. First, the journey to connect your head to your heart is not taken externally. Within each person, such a connection needs to be made through spiritual practice. Second, the battle to forge your life’s meaning does not only occur in the present. Instead, we need to realize the influence of the lessons of the past and the fears of the future. Both reside in the human mind. Indeed, if the present moment is to be lived fully, the ongoing influence of both the past and the future must be considered.
Finally, in the end, as in the beginning, the most potent lesson relayed to Brian Delate from the transcendent beings is a message about the value of life. In all cases, life is precious, and we cannot give up on it, no matter how hard it seems in the moment. As the conscious species on this planet, we have been given the rare gift of a human birth. Like any incredible gift, it comes with a responsibility. In his work and the daily challenge of being human, Brian Delate struggles honestly and without regret to forge a lasting and kind meaning in his life.