Play brings troops' postwar problems to the front

By STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 21, 2011

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — A play about the personal struggles servicemembers wrestle with when coming home from war and the challenges their family members face helping loved ones cope after a deployment is touring U.S. Army bases in Europe this week and next.

Based on hundreds of hours of interviews with combat veterans and their families, “ReEntry” is the work of Emily Ackerman and KJ Sanchez, both sisters of combat veterans. Three years ago, they began interviewing Marines returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, according to the website of American Records, the theater company presenting the women’s play.

The aim, according to the website, is to show what returning home is like for military members “and to ask how we – as families, as a culture, a society, and as a country – can help.”

One reviewer, in comments posted on the theater company’s website, said, “ReEntry is like war itself: complex, layered, and visceral,” and a “tour-de-force of loneliness, fear, and anger overlaid with moments of warmth, growth and inspiration.”

The live-stage performances are being held as part of suicide prevention activities this month at U.S. Army Europe bases, with the goal of getting people to talk about the potential psychological impact of prolonged or repeated deployments and to increase awareness of resources for those who need help, according to a USAREUR press release. There is a discussion involving audience members, the cast, a chaplain and medical personnel after each performance, USAREUR said.

Two performances were held Wednesday at the chapel on Daenner Kaserne. Five actors played multiple parts in scenarios centered on what it’s like to return from war, from servicemembers in a bar, who feel misunderstood by well-meaning civilians, to a mother dealing with the combat injury of her active-duty son and his readjustment to life at home.

The play is open to soldiers, spouses and civilians. Admission is free.

Performance dates for the rest of the month are:

• Thursday in Schweinfurt, Germany, at 9:30 a.m. (Ledward Theater);

• Thursday in Bamberg, Germany, at 2 p.m. (Post Theater);

• Friday in Ansbach, Germany, at 9:30 a.m. (Katterbach Theater on Bismarck Kaserne) and 2 p.m. (Illesheim Theater on Storck Barracks);

• Sept. 26 in Grafenwöhr, Germany, at 9:30 a.m. (Tower Theater);

• Sept. 26 in Vilseck, Germany, at 2 p.m. (Jurkewicz Theater);

• Sept. 28 in Vicenza, Italy, at 9:30 a.m. (Post Theater).

For more information, contact the USAREUR soldier and family readiness branch at: DSN 314-370-8060 or civilian 06221-57-8060.

Read about the play at: http://www.americanrecordstheater.org/reentry/

KJ Sanchez, the co-writer of "ReEntry", and CEO of the American Records theater company talks to the audience at the Daenner chapel in Kaiserslautern before the performance that uses actual interviews with combat veterans and their families as the dialogue. Afterwards she led a panel discussion about the characters and what servicemembers and their families face following a combat deployment.


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