This Winter Horse Trade and EXIT Theatre return to bring you a festival that is uncensored, unjuried and totally downtown.

Sleepless Theatre Company

adapted for the stage by Bradley Rand Smith

Thu 2/26
7:30 PM
Sun 3/01
2:30 PM
Mon 3/02
6:00 PM
Wed 3/04
7:30 PM
Sat 3/07
8:30 PM

Dalton Trumbo’s Johnny Got His Gun tells of Joe Bonham, rendered a blind and deaf quadriplegic in WWI. Through an intimate one-man performance, we explore the mind of a boy cut off from the world as he struggles to come to terms with the life he has lost.



Based on “Hollywood Ten” writer Dalton Trumbo’s 1939 novel and adapted for the stage by Bradley Rand Smith, JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN is the inspiring story of twenty-year-old Joe Bonham, a quadruple amputee who has also lost his eyes, ears, nose, and mouth during his service in World War I. Regaining consciousness, Joe discovers that while his brain is healthy and able to reason, the rest of his body is irreparably shattered, leaving him trapped forever within the confines of his own imagination. The play follows his valiant struggle to find some way to communicate with the outside world. Tapping his head in Morse code, he breaks through and pleads with his caretakers to be put on display as a living example of the cost of war.

“Mr. Trumbo’s message is as important today as ever, and we are excited to present Dalton Trumbo’s JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN as part of the Frigid Festival,” said Director Gerritt Turner. “While this play, like the novel on which it is based, is a landmark of anti-war tradition, it retains the power to move us because it is essentially a human story to which war is but a backdrop.”

JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN has been performed in countries around the world, including Hungary and Yugoslavia. It has received two L.A. Drama Critics Circle Awards in 2003, including Best Adaptation. In 1982, Jeff Daniels received an Obie for his performance in the play’s New York premier. Most recently, JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN has been performed by Ricardo Pérez-Gonzalez at FringNYC, where reviewed him as “extraordinary” and “stunning” and Curtain Up as “utterly compelling.” Pérez-Gonzalez has also performed the role at Sacramento’s Eagle Theatre, where his “remarkable performance” was hailed by the Sacramento News and Review, and has translated the play into Spanish for an upcoming tour in Spain. Additionally, Fall of 2007 saw the premiere of a new film based on the stage adaptation starring O.C. cast member Ben McKenzie.

CRITICAL ACCLAIM for regional productions of

“Johnny Got His Gun is a visceral and timely challenge.”
- The L.A. Times
“Johnny Got His Gun is … one of the most moving, life-affirming, and masterfully executed shows I’ve ever seen.”
“Full of hope and love… this is a stunning work.”
“An emotional performance that is thrilling to watch…as relevant today as the novel was 65 years ago.”
- The Sacramento Bee
“Is [Johnny Got His Gun] memorable, thought-provoking and strangely life-affirming? Yes. Is it worth a visit? Absolutely.”
- Sacramento News and Review
“Painfully simple and profoundly moving.”
- The Cape Cod Times
“[T]his story will stay with you, haunt you many nights after seeing it.”
“[M]esmerizing…spellbinding…keeps you on the edge of your seat.”
- The Cape Cod Chronicle

Cast and Crew

Ricardo Pérez Gonzalez (Joe Bonham): recent projects include the Padre in Man of La Mancha (Duo Theatre), Marat/Sade (Classical Theatre of Harlem), an originating role in Suzan-Lori Park's celebrated 365 Days/365 Plays at the New York Public, the role of Juan Gonzalez in Migrants! (Teatro Pregones), Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro, Tom in Un ballo in maschera, Schaunard in La bohème (Burgas Opera House, Bulgaria) and El Dancaïro in Carmen (Hradek Kralove Opera Festival, CR).  His favorite role is Joe in the one-man show Johnny Got His Gun (FringeNYC), for which CurtainUp and hailed him as “remarkable” and “utterly compelling.”
NY credits: Salerio/Solanio in Merchant of Venice, The Murderer/Mentieth in Macbeth (Dreamscape Theatre), co-creator and ensemble member of The Burning Cities Project (FringeNYC), Mr. Jackson Heights in Jackson Heights the Musical (Interborough Repertory Theatre),Paul in Company (CMTS) and Renfield in Dracula.  Ricardo is a member of The Dreamscape Theatre, and Big Apple Playback Theatre (  He studies voice with Lenora Eve and Dorothy Stone and dance with Jim Cooney and Beverly Brown.

Gerritt Turner (director): New York directing credits include The Merchant of Venice and Macbeth with the Dreamscape Theatre, The Night Trombone (reading) with Playwright Horizons Theater School, Johnny Got His Gun at FringeNYC (for which his direction was hailed as “sharp and poignant” by, Self Portrait as Schiele, also at FringeNYC, Simulacra: A Modern Myth with breedingground productions and Othello, Krapp's Last Tape, and 16670 by Erik Ehn at NYU.  Gerritt teaches directing at Playwrights Horizons Theater School, and is a graduate of Tisch School of the Arts.

Artist's Statement

In 1939, six days before the outbreak of World War II, author Dalton Trumbo published his famous novel, Johnny Got His Gun.  The novel tells the story of Joe Bonham, an eager young soldier sent off to fight in the First World War, whose grievous wounds render him a quadriplegic, blind, deaf, and dumb.  In 1969, playwright Bradley Rand Smith adapted Johnny for the stage; through a simple, intimate one-man performance, we journey into the mind of Joe, cut off from the world by his injuries.  Smith adapted the novel in response to the Vietnam War, yet it was not till the 1980’s that it finally received its debut performance.  Since then, the play has enjoyed much fame abroad, but has largely been forgotten here in America.  Today, a new American war rages, and there is little in our lives to remind us of the true horror of combat.  An ocean removed, there is no draft, no rationing, for the first time in U.S. history taxes have not been raised as a response, and mothers whose children will never return home are seldom seen in public discourse outside of campaign season.

It is with this in mind that over the past years I have staged revivals of Joe Bonham’s story.  In the spring of 2004, I translated the text into Spanish for S.E.E. Theatre’s production in Spanish Harlem. That summer, I went on to perform as Joe in an English production staged in Sacramento, California with LOOKOUT! Players.  In the summer of 2005 I staged the play at FringeNYC.  It is my hope that its inclusion in the Frigid Festival will help me launch a university tour.

After 80 years, Joe’s moment has come again, and I can only hope that his story may be reintroduced to a country who needs to remember him.  Given the ease and simplicity of the play, I have great hopes that his story will enter our national folklore and serve as a reminder of the true cost of war, which, regardless of ideology, political affiliation, religion, or creed, is measured in blood, and the suffering of future generations.


Ricardo Pérez Gonzalez


Audience Choice Awards
Dalton Trumbo's Johnny Got His Gun
Star Rating
audience Comment

Audience Member

5 A brilliant, moving experience. The story was compelling, the staging was dynamic, and the acting was flawless. I left the theater wiping away tears, and I will be pondering the themes presented for weeks, perhaps years.  
5 Great production and performance of a one man show. Patty Montesi
5 It was excellent Jennifer
5 Excellent Doug Strassler
4 Excellent Mark Turetsky
5 Great show. Very heartfelt.  
5 Well acted and moving.  
5 Marvelous and so moving Anna Petrie