Getting it Right: Military Theatre

By Robin Mackey | The majority of military plays that have been written and produced post-Operation Iraqi Freedom are plays that reflect the consequence of America’s negligence towards veterans. Many challenges plague our veterans – including reintegrating into society, navigating mental health and moral injury. While utilizing art as a vehicle to raise awareness and educate communities may be done with the best of intentions, there are times where inaccuracies run rampant and thus “emerge from or promote superficial understandings of issues”. These misunderstandings have grave consequences and can “undermine a veteran’s ability to feel connected” with society, family and/or friends.

The following article, published in February by American Theatre, asks questions such as: How do playwrights who have not “experienced this specific type of trauma approach an informed understanding”? and How do we tackle representation of soldiers who served outside of infantry?

We often forget the emotional and physical difficulties that face all soldiers in any positions. For example, in George Brandt’s Grounded, we witness the rise and fall of an F-16 fighter pilot turned RPA drone pilot sparked by her inability to separate the desert of Afghanistan where she hunts terrorists and the desert of Nevada she calls home. Grounded is one of very few plays that deals with Veteran Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) specifically from a female perspective.  Her non-infantry position as a drone pilot leads to the development of psychological trauma that with the growing age of technology illustrates not all combat is physical. This nuanced representation disrupts common gender narratives about wartime psychological drama for the better.

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