When the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union last month, the seaside town of Port Talbot in Wales eagerly went along with the move. Brexit was approved by some 57 percent of the town's residents.

Now some of them are wondering if they made the wrong decision.

The June 23 Brexit vote has raised questions about the fate of the troubled Port Talbot Works, Britain's largest surviving steel plant — a huge, steam-belching facility that has long been the town's biggest employer.

Solar Impulse 2 has landed in Cairo, completing the penultimate leg of its attempt to circumnavigate the globe using only the power of the sun.

The trip over the Mediterranean included a breathtaking flyover of the Pyramids. Check it out:

President Obama is challenging Americans to have an honest and open-hearted conversation about race and law enforcement. But even as he sits down at the White House with police and civil rights activists, Obama is mindful of the limits of that approach.

"I've seen how inadequate words can be in bringing about lasting change," the president said Tuesday at a memorial service for five law officers killed last week in Dallas. "I've seen how inadequate my own words have been."

Mice watching Orson Welles movies may help scientists explain human consciousness.

At least that's one premise of the Allen Brain Observatory, which launched Wednesday and lets anyone with an Internet connection study a mouse brain as it responds to visual information.

The FBI says it is giving up on the D.B. Cooper investigation, 45 years after the mysterious hijacker parachuted into the night with $200,000 in a briefcase, becoming an instant folk figure.

"Following one of the longest and most exhaustive investigations in our history," the FBI's Ayn Dietrich-Williams said in a statement, "the FBI redirected resources allocated to the D.B. Cooper case in order to focus on other investigative priorities."

This is the first in a series of essays concerning our collective future. The goal is to bring forth some of the main issues humanity faces today, as we move forward to uncertain times. In an effort to be as thorough as possible, we will consider two kinds of threats: those due to natural disasters and those that are man-made. The idea is to expose some of the dangers and possible mechanisms that have been proposed to deal with these issues. My intention is not to offer a detailed analysis for each threat — but to invite reflection and, hopefully, action.

Alabama authorities say a home burglary suspect has died after police used a stun gun on the man.  Birmingham police say he resisted officers who found him in a house wrapped in what looked like material from the air conditioner duct work.  The Lewisburg Road homeowner called police Tuesday about glass breaking and someone yelling and growling in his basement.  Police reportedly entered the dwelling and used a stun gun several times on a white suspect before handcuffing him.  Investigators say the man was "extremely irritated" throughout and didn't obey verbal commands.

It can be hard to distinguish among the men wearing grey suits and regulation haircuts on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. But David Margolis always brought a splash of color.

It wasn't his lovably disheveled wardrobe, or his Elvis ring, but something else: the force of his flamboyant personality. Margolis, a graduate of Harvard Law School, didn't want to fit in with the crowd. He wanted to stand out.

Montgomery Education Foundation's Brain Forest Summer Learning Academy was spotlighted Wednesday at Carver High School.  The academic-enrichment program is for rising 4th, 5th, and 6th graders in the Montgomery Public School system.  Community Program Director Dillion Nettles, says the program aims to prevent learning loss during summer months.  To find out how your child can participate in next summer's program visit Montgomery-ed.org

A police officer is free on bond after being arrested following a rash of road-sign thefts in southeast Alabama.  Brantley Police Chief Titus Averett says officer Jeremy Ray Walker of Glenwood is on paid leave following his arrest in Pike County.  The 30-year-old Walker is charged with receiving stolen property.  Lt. Troy Johnson of the Pike County Sheriff's Office says an investigation began after someone reported that Walker was selling road signs from Crenshaw County.  Investigators contacted the county engineer and learned signs had been reported stolen from several roads.

Pages

A Vet's Haunted Homecoming In 'Water By The Spoonful'

Jan 8, 2013
Originally published on January 8, 2013 6:06 am

The cliche about writers is they should write what they know, and that old saw has certainly worked for Quiara Alegria Hudes. The 35-year-old playwright has mined her Puerto Rican family's stories into a series of plays, a musical and even a children's book. Now, her Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, Water by the Spoonful, is being brought to life in the first New York production of the play, opening off-Broadway on Tuesday evening.

Water by the Spoonful is the second play in a trilogy featuring a character named Elliot, an injured Iraq war veteran who has returned to his home in North Philadelphia. Elliot is based on Hudes' cousin, also named Elliot. She says she went to visit him on a military base shortly after he returned from Iraq.

"I just remember the instant I saw him, there was just something changed in his eye," Hudes says. "You know, he was still absolutely the same young clown of a cousin I had always known and had grown up with, loving, but there was something different. And I felt that I might never understand it. And that's the simple spark that it came from."

As Hudes began writing about Elliot's experiences, she says she noticed there were more and more young people in uniform showing up in Elliot's Latino neighborhood in North Philadelphia. She thought to herself: "It's not just Elliot's story. This is going to be the story of a generation."

Armando Riesco has played Elliot since the first play premiered in 2006 and will be playing him in the final installment of the trilogy, when it opens in Chicago this spring. In Water by the Spoonful, Elliot is haunted by his experiences in Iraq and working in a mind-numbing job at a sandwich shop. Riesco says he went online to veterans' chat rooms, to do some research.

"The very first story that I found there was a 24-year-old Marine that came back with a leg injury, that was working a dead-end job and who just did not know what to do with his anger," Riesco says. "And I thought, 'There's a lot of this out there.' "

The online world is a large part of Water by the Spoonful, though it doesn't seem directly related to Elliot's story — at least, for most of the play's first act, says director Davis McCallum.

"The play is in part about families," he says, "because there's a blood family in North Philly and then there's a family of choice that kind of congregates in this online chat room."

It's an online chat room for recovering crack addicts. These two stories work in parallel for the first act and eventually collide in the second. McCallum says the relationships in the online community are every bit as real as the ones in the flesh-and-blood family — for the most part.

"They're so close in every way, except for physically," McCallum says. "There's a moment, late in the play, where two characters meet, face to face, for the first time. ... It's really a great piece of writing, because you realize that they know everything about the other person, you know, except for what they look like and what their name is — which we think of as two of the most fundamental ways people define themselves."

Where these two worlds meet is in a character named Odessa — or HaikuMom, which is her online alias. In the play's explosive second act, the audience discovers how this calm, placid nurturing figure in the chat room became estranged from her family, which includes Elliot. Liza Colon-Zayas plays the troubled character, who finds her better self online.

"You can remake yourself, you can reimagine yourself and start fresh, in a way that she can't do in her own community, with her own family," Colon-Zayas says.

Ultimately, all the characters in Water by the Spoonful are dealing with deep reservoirs of pain and guilt and are knocked down by their demons, says McCallum: "One of the central things about the play is, after you get knocked down, by what means and through what set of actions do you go about the process of getting back up?"

That, playwright Hudes says, is what leads to a hopeful ending, as these disparate characters, with their disparate stories, come together in sometimes surprising ways.

"You know, I think Water by the Spoonful has what I would almost call three love stories, though the love is not necessarily romantic at all," Hudes says. "But I think it is, in some ways, a play about finding love and grace and companionship in unexpected places."

As for the real Elliot, Hudes says her 27-year-old cousin has succeeded in rebuilding his life. He's now employed full time, going to college in the evenings, and will be there Tuesday night for the opening.

"There's a lot of gratitude in both directions," Hudes says. "I'm excited for him to see this play again and I'm excited for him to walk the red carpet and kind of stand up tall and flash his big cheeseburger smile and, you know, be honored as a young American man."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

When the Pulitzer Prize committee gave "Water by the Spoonful" its drama award last year, it did so on the basis of reading the script. Now that script, about an Iraq war veteran, is being brought to life in the first New York production of the play, opening off-Broadway this evening.

Jeff Lunden reports.

JEFF LUNDEN, BYLINE: The cliche about writers is they should write what they know, and that old saw has certainly worked for Quiara Alegría Hudes. The 35-year-old playwright has mined her Puerto Rican family's stories into a series of plays, a musical, and even a children's book. "Water by the Spoonful" is the second play in a trilogy which features a character named Elliot, an injured Iraq war veteran who's returned to his home in North Philadelphia.

Elliot is based on Hudes' cousin, also named Elliot. She says she went to visit him on a military base, shortly after he returned from Iraq.

QUIARA ALEGRÍA HUDES: I just remember the instant I saw him, there was just something changed in his eye. You know, he was still absolutely the same young clown of a cousin I had always known and had grown up with, loving, but there was something different. And I felt that I might never understand it. And that's the simple spark that it came from.

LUNDEN: As Hudes' began writing about Elliot's experiences, she says she noticed...

HUDES: There were just more and more young people in the city showing up in uniform and especially in the Latino neighborhood, which is where Elliot was raised in North Philly. And I thought, it's not just Elliot's story. This is going to be the story of a generation.

(SOUNDBITE OF PLAY, "WATER BY THE SPOONFUL")

ARMANDO RIESCO: (as Elliot) (Unintelligible) with American cheese on whole grain (unintelligible) on flatbread? Are we good so far?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (as character) (Unintelligible)

RIESCO: (as Elliot) (Unintelligible) chocolate chip cookies?

LUNDEN: Armando Riesco has played Elliot since the first play premiered in 2006 and will be playing him in the final installment of the trilogy, when it opens in Chicago this spring. In "Water by the Spoonful," Elliot is haunted by his experiences in Iraq and working in a mind-numbing job at a sandwich shop. Riesco says he went online to veterans' chat rooms to do some research.

RIESCO: The very first story that I found there was a 24-year-old Marine that came back with a leg injury, that was working a dead-end job and who just did not know what to do with his anger. And I thought there's a lot of this out there.

LUNDEN: The online world is a large part of "Water by the Spoonful," though it doesn't seem directly related to Elliot's story - at least for most of the play's first act.

According to director Davis McCallum...

DAVID MCCALLUM: The play is in part about families because there's a blood family in North Philly. And then there's a family of choice that kind of congregates in this online chat room.

LUNDEN: An online chat room for recovering crack addicts. These two stories work in parallel for the first act and eventually collide in the second. McCallum says the relationships in the online community are every bit as real as the ones in the flesh and blood family, for the most part.

MCCALLUM: They're so close in every way, except for physically. There's a moment late in the play where two characters meet, face-to-face, for the first time. And it's really a great piece of writing, because you realize that they know everything about the other person, you know, except for what they look like and what their name is - which we think of as two of the most fundamental ways people define themselves.

(SOUNDBITE OF PLAY, "WATER BY THE SPOONFUL")

LIZA COLON-ZAYAS: (as Odessa/HaikuMom) Any time you feel like using, log on here instead.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (as character) What's in it?

COLON-ZAYAS: When it comes to junkies, I got lower than the dungeon. Once upon a time I had a beautiful family too. Now all I have is six years clean.

LUNDEN: Where these two worlds meet is in a character named Odessa - or HaikuMom, which is her online alias. In the play's explosive second act, the audience discovers how this calm, placid, nurturing figure in the chat room became estranged from her family, which includes Elliot. Liza Colon-Zayas plays the troubled character, who finds her better self online.

COLON-ZAYAS: You can remake yourself and you can re-imagine yourself and start fresh in a way that she can't do in her own community with her own family.

(SOUNDBITE OF PLAY, "WATER BY THE SPOONFUL")

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC TONES)

COLON-ZAYAS: (as Odessa/HaikuMom) Ninety-one days. Smile, you guys. Orangutan. Jesus. I thought my primate friend had disappeared back into the jungle.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (as character) Disappeared, yes. Jungle - happily, no.

LUNDEN: Ultimately, all the characters in "Water by the Spoonful" are dealing with deep reservoirs of pain and guilt, and are knocked down by their demons, says director Davis McCallum.

MCCALLUM: One of the central things about the play is, after you get knocked down, by what means and through what set of actions do you go about the process of getting back up?

LUNDEN: That, playwright Quiara Alegría says, is what leads to a hopeful ending, as these disparate characters, with their disparate stories, come together in sometimes surprising ways.

HUDES: You know, I think "Water by the Spoonful" has what I would almost call three love stories, though the love is not necessarily romantic at all. But I think it is, in some ways, a play about finding love and grace and companionship in unexpected places.

LUNDEN: As for the real Elliot, Hudes says her 27-year-old cousin has succeeded in rebuilding his life. He's now employed full-time, going to college in the evenings, and will be there tonight for the opening.

HUDES: There's a lot of gratitude in both directions, and I'm excited for him to see this play again. And I'm excited for him to walk the red carpet and kind of stand up tall and flash his big cheeseburger smile and, you know, be honored as a young American man.

LUNDEN: "Water by the Spoonful" plays at Second Stage, off-Broadway, through January 27. The third play of the Elliot trilogy, "The Happiest Song Plays Last," begins performances at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago on April 13.

For NPR News, I'm Jeff Lunden in New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.