Through the “Crucible” of war to the stage

Army veteran Peter Nuoffer takes on the role of conservative Governor Judge Danforth in his first play at valley.

By Yesenia Burgara, Staff Writer

Peter Nuoffer lost himself after dropping out of high school.

VETERAN IN A NEW FIELD - From the battle field to the theater stage, Peter Nuofer always conquers in flying colors.Ariane Azar / Photographer

VETERAN IN A NEW FIELD – From the battle field to the theater stage, Peter Nuofer always conquers in flying colors.

“I’m either going to do something with my life or I’m going to die,” he thought as he struggled with substance abuse as a teen. “I’m going to be a wasted person who never did anything, and I don’t want to be that person.”

That was the beginning of his 15-year career in the U.S. Army, during which he received 39 individual awards, including an Army Commendation Medal with a “V” device for valor in combat. And now the 36-year-old theatre major faces another kind of test: playing Governor Judge Danforth in “The Crucible” at Valley.

“I want to be a big movie star,” he thought as an 8-year-old. As a child, he acted in the movies such as, “Sling Blade.” By age 10, Nuoffer was taking conservatory acting classes, and began acting at community theaters.

“That is when I fell in love with the idea of being able to be someone else, and experience what someone else is experiencing,” explained Nuoffer.

His ultimate goal now, is to receive his Bachelors Degree and a Masters in Theater of Arts at UCLA and obtain a single-subject credential to teach high school students and guide them in a positive direction.

He joined the Army in 1999, eventually rising to the rank of sergeant. His “V” Device came after holding ground for three hours in Iraq against overwhelming odds.

“There are things that’ll keep you up at night … I don’t talk about the good moments and I don’t talk about the bad moments,” said the decorated combat veteran. He did share one of his favorite moments: In Iraq in 2003, he and a friend were playing a game of spades that took them to the finals in a division tournament.

“It was one of the best times of my life,” he said, the memory eliciting joy even now. “I think it was 526 to negative 30, some ridiculous score – that moment him and I played while my buddies had gone to watch us; there’s nothing that equates to that, the bond with my fellow soldiers, a brotherhood that doesn’t exist out here.”

Nuoffer is now in the Army Reserve, and has been in shows such as “NCIS,” “CSI,” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” He has also acted in the movies “Transformers” and “Twilight,” has been in music videos, done voice work for “Call of Duty,” and was a videogame consultant for two years.

He says he’s comfortable in the roles he’s often cast in: soldier, cop, lawyer, manager, or paramedic. He’s drawn to their firm beliefs, as in the case of Danforth in “The Crucible.”

“The beauty of this character is that he is not wrong. He’s not right, but he is not wrong,” he says of the judge who decides whether to execute citizens accused of witchcraft. “In his head he is doing the right thing, this is what he’s supposed to do. I feel a connection with Danforth since my father is a minister and I grew up in a Lutheran household, and Christianity was the only way.”

Nuoffer says people might consider Danforth the villain, but after they watch “The Crucible” their idea of good and bad might change. “It might give people the opportunity to look at something that they know is just one way and realize it isn’t. I also challenge them to ask themselves if the witches were real or not.”

The troubled teenager-turned decorated soldier-turned actor, enjoying his “promotion” from sergeant to Governor Judge, says of all his military accomplishments, his favorites are his five Good Conduct Medals, “Which mean I managed to stay out of trouble, which is an accomplishment if you look at who I was before I joined.”


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