This Veterans’ Day, Stage West, along with the Atlantic Council, is proud to present an abbreviated reading of the Pulitzer-nominated play War Words by Michelle Kholos Brooks, as part of a nationwide event which celebrates, honors, and recognizes the men and women of our military.

The play is a work of docu-theatre, which chronicles the funny, strange, heroic, and heartbreaking stories of military service people who served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, based on interviews with veterans of those wars and their families Commending the play, the Council’s board director General (Ret.) David Petraeus says, “Few movies or plays have ever captured for me as powerfully as War Words . . . the experiences of American veterans, especially those who have served in uniform since 9/11.”.

The event is organized by the Atlantic Council, a think-tank affiliated with the Department of Defense, which works to better bridge the gap between those who serve our nation and the general public. In light of recent events from that part of the world, this Veterans’ Day event feels all the more timely, necessary, and special. War Words is compelling entertainment, which also serves the civic purpose of drawing the audience into a closer relationship with the men and women who serve in the military.

While most Veterans’ Day events are geared towards veterans (who are certainly welcome and encouraged to attend), this event is also geared towards the general public who might not have any relationship with the military.

We at Stage West are thrilled to be one of just six theaters around the nation chosen to present this wonderful event, and to help to bring more awareness to the lives and stories of our military service people.

Stage West’s presentation will be directed by Gregg Wiggans, and will feature Sasha Maya Ada, Jakie Cabe, Conor Clark, Allen Dean, Sam Henderson, Sean Massey, Blake McNamara, Dana Schultes, and Morgana Wilborn. Catie Choate will serve as Moderator, Stage Manager will be Hailey Green, with Lighting and Technical Design by Bryan Stevenson.

Performances are November 10 and November 11 at 6:30pm. Doors open at 5:30pm, with the Lobby Café’s bar available for pre-show drinks and appetizers. The evening includes an exclusive message via video from General Petraeus. Tickets are just $10 for general public and $5 for Stage West season ticket holders.

Parental discretion is advised (PG-13). This 90-minute event is sponsored by Elbit Systems of America, Bell Textron, and Textron Systems. Further information can be found at https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/programs/scowcroft-center-for-strategy-and-security/forward-defense/war-words-across-america/

Playwright Statement for War Words

By Michelle Kholos Brooks

A few years ago, I considered myself a progressive, open, unbiased person. I didn’t believe in having preconceived notions about individuals based on, for instance, gender, or ethnicity or religion. I didn’t see any of those things.

But you can bet your boots I saw military.

I believed all the clichés I’d heard about people who serve—they join up because they don’t have other choices; they can’t afford college; people in the military like the adrenalin of the fight, right?

Then I started this project and my view completely changed. War Words is based on interviews I did with real people who have served during our twenty year “Long War” in Iraq and Afghanistan. Once I began hearing their personal stories, I started to care.

I understand a little more about the military now, and I can even follow some (some!) of the acronyms. But I don’t think the information I’ve gathered really matters. What’s important is that I now feel something for the people who I once viewed as “other.” And In feeling something for them, I have started to become more invested in the national policies that send these people away from their families and ask them to do things I would never volunteer to do. I don’t have to agree with these policies to care about the people who are charged with the extraordinary task of carrying them out. A very small fraction of our citizenry bears an enormous burden for the rest of us. It is now clear to me that a little understanding is the very least I can offer to help lighten the load.

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