Arts in New York City: Baruch College, Fall 2008, Professor Roslyn Bernstein
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Soldiers are not Politicians, but they are “In Conflict”



            “Soldiers are not politicians, ”Ty Simmons asserts in Yvonne Latty’s book “In Conflict”, now adapted into a thought provoking Culture Project production. Our main military man was one of the many veterans whose tortured stories were heart wrenchingly revealed on the small stage at the Barrow Street theatre.

            Revealed would be the word because the open-minded cast and directors of the show managed to create both an expository play about a war that is very simple to bash. It would have been far easier for Culture Project or even Yvonne Latty to compile the memoirs of bitter and disgruntled opponents of the war but they didn’t and their lack of narrow-mindedness made this production all the more credible.

             As the title states, all the characters are tragically “In Conflict” in every sense of the phrase.  The invigorating young cast, most of who are Temple University alumni demand attention with their youth and admittedly through their relative inexperience to most actors. They are the age of most returning Iraq War veterans who are replete with angst, patriotism and just as conflicted.

            “I joined the army because I didn’t have the means to get into college,” Darryl Anderson bluntly admits as he paced restlessly on the stage. Red, white and blue lights highlighting casting shadows on his face.  A swirling bundle of nerves, guilt and emotional upheaval that are as luminous as his face as he admits that he went AWOL. Like many of his fellow veterans he could not support the gruesome finality of killing people. Yet that is in essence war. His inability to reconcile his desire to see others live and to follow orders is echoed in all the accounts of all those young dudes, an women who are now veterans. He and they are not politicians and there are no answers, yet.

            That is what the Culture Project has managed to capture and convey so successfully, there are no answers. At least not yet anyway because the public is no one is united or informed enough. Yet, honest plays like this certainly alleviate that fact. It is impossible to fairly judge a war now, or any war for that manner when it isn’t even over yet and according to the quintessential military man Ty Simmons, it won’t be. For now, our country, the brilliant actors of “In Conflict” and their self tortured counterparts will continue to “bleed red, white and blue”, touching audiences from any mindset.