Culture Project presents... In Conflict (11/11/2008)
There was no better way to celebrate Veteran’s day then going to see In Conflict. Not only will it remind you of the trying times our soldiers are facing in Iraq, but also why you are proud to be an American.
Based on journalist Yvonne Latty’s 2006 book of the same name, Douglas Wager digests Latty’s interviews with Iraq War Veterans, who have just returned from their tour of duty, into a series of monologues. The stories, which are based on actual people’s lives, range from a young disenchanted Captain to a Private with severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), alcoholism, and drug addiction. Nearly half of those depicted were amputees.
As overwhelming these personal stories felt, the actors made space for humor. Of these moments, my favorite was a Jewish-American Private sharing the story of when he shook President Bush’s hand, and how surprised our country's leader was that an immigrant was in the army. One of the most powerful moments of the show was when one soldier, a mother with severe PTSD, recounted how devastated she was when she hit her child on reflex because he snuck up behind her. The women represented in the play included a doctor, an activist from Veterans Against the Iraq War, an Asian-American amputee, and the mother, a wide array equivalent to the treatment of the male characters.
Perhaps the most pleasantly surprising aspect of the show was the choice of set. With five rotating floor-to-ceiling boards that showed a map of Iraq on one side and a dirty American flag on the other, they seamlessly created transitions between monologues, even though each story was an entirely separate entity.
I was lucky enough to enjoy one of the performances that included a Q&A following the performance with a couple of the Veterans whose stories were enacted in the show. Both men were astonishing. Despite near complete physical or mental debilitation upon their return from Iraq, each man now lives a happy life and gives back by helping newly returned Veterans, in the hope that they will not have to go through the same trauma that these men did.
The show closes on Sunday November 16th, so hurry down to the Barrow Street Theatre before it is too late.