Arts in New York City: Baruch College, Fall 2008, Professor Roslyn Bernstein
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In Conflict – Support the troops, just listen.

           Based on the book by Yvonne Latty, In Conflict, presented on September 25, 2008 at the Barrow Street Theater, recounts the story of war veterans who served in Iraq.

           Unlike other documentaries based on war veterans’ experiences, In Conflict neither preaches anti-war, nor advocates being a war hawk. Instead, Latty includes the stories of all types of veterans: amputee, single, gay, female, AWOL, married, middle-aged, black, straight, doctor, war monger. When asked about her selection of veterans, Latty explained how she strived to create a balance, and refrained from modifying the interviewee’s words when writing her book. Perhaps the strongest aspect of the play is its ability to connect with the audience. We hear the raw, ugly, painful, and sometimes nauseating words and experiences of real soldiers. While veterans like Ty Simmons “bleed red, white, and blue,” others like Darryl Anderson “went AWOL and moved to Canada.” Regardless of the story we are envisioning, and despite the comic-relief and hints of sarcasm, In Conflict displays the vivid, shocking, and unnerving stories of Iraq War veterans.

           No big names pop out when looking at the list of cast. Actually, there is no “star power” in the show; the entire cast is compromised of recent graduates and current students of Temple University. In fact, for some of the cast members like Damon Williams (Herold Noel, Jamel Daniels), this is their first major role. Despite their lack of experience, each actor completely encompasses the attitude, accent, and demeanor of the veteran they are portraying. The authenticity of each actor is so remarkable and engaging, it doesn’t feel like you are watching a documentary, rather you are an onlooker observing a firsthand account. This dramatic atmosphere is accomplished by the creative setting led by Andrew Laine, dominated by swinging and turning panels. In one instance, the panels are aligned depicting the map of Iraq, while in the next scene they contain an image of Uncle Sam as the soldiers all lie down on the floor covered by American flags, representing caskets. The lighting design led by J. Dominic Chacon, and sound design led by Christopher Capello and Paul Winnick, immensely contributes to the mood and aura of the play. One of the many gut wrenching moments occurs when Jamel Daniels speaks about seeing a new-born baby lying in the middle of the road. In a split second, two roaming tanks mindlessly run over the baby, crushing and killing it. In the background we hear the ringing cry of a baby, and immediately envision the devastating story.

           The calamitous stories shared throughout In Conflict succeed in giving you goose bumps, and making you squirm and jittery within your seat. Yvonne Latty and director Douglas C. Wager present the utmost support for the troops – bringing to light their voices, their true voices.


1 Christian Iezzi { 12.11.08 at 4:59 am }

I appreciate your comment regarding the authenticity of the actors. They did justice to the images of the veterans that they portrayed. I would also agree with the idea that the lighting and sound really contributed to the performance and enhanced its already powerful message.

2 Mario Claudio { 10.26.09 at 2:34 pm }

Umm Herold Noel is the young man that recounts the child being run over by a convoy of tanks and trucks. Whereas, Jamel Daniels, was the Marine Corporal that was in the IED explosion.