A modern Greek tragedy

Cast of “Ajax in Iraq” discusses the play’s treatment of social issues

Whereas Ferris’ fall production of “Spamalot” was classic comedic fare, upcoming military drama “Ajax in Iraq” will, according to the cast, leave audiences speechless.

“[Director Katherine LaPietra] tends to go very fun one play and very serious another play,” criminal justice junior Georgina D’Hondt, who plays co-lead of A.J., said. “Like last year; we had ‘Legally Blonde’… and then we had ‘The Best Man.’”

“Ajax in Iraq” focuses on two very different people in two very different times: A.J., a soldier in the Iraq war, and Ajax, a great warrior in Greek mythology. What they share is the toll the traumas in their lives have taken on them.

“Their plot is what brings them together because it’s the same storyline, for the most part,” liberal arts sophomore Julia Steudle, who plays Connie Mangus in the play, said. “It just interchanges between them while also adding in random monologues from other soldiers that don’t have names.”

Although the play’s structure is noticably experimental, the subject matter is what will stick with audiences. “Ajax in Iraq” focuses on the darker shadows of the military, addressing issues of psychological struggles, suicide and sexual assault.

“We’ve been treading very carefully because it is a very serious subject matter,” general business sophomore Devin Anderson, who is playing The Sergeant, said. “When you boil it down, it’s war and death, and all these terrible things that people should probably all be on the same page about, politics aside.”

The cast emphasizes that this specific play was chosen not to shock, but rather to start necessary conversations.

“With all of [the plays], it’s what [LaPietra] calls ‘socially significant,’” Anderson said. “There are even facets of ‘Legally Blonde’ and ‘Spamalot’ that deal with social issues that are relevant today, and this one is definitely no exception. There’s lots of hot button issues that everyone seems to want to talk about – war and sexuality, sexual assault.”

The cast and crew have also taken pains to approach the multiple triggering topics with as much tact as possible, researching films about the Silent War.

“Devin and I, she told us to watch a video about The Silent War, and basically it’s women and men in the military who get sexually assaulted by higher ups because you can’t speak against your higher ups; it’s not allowed,” D’Holdt said. “That’s what part of this play is about. Parental advisory: don’t bring your kids.”

“I hope there’s some way we can warn people those topics are in the play, because I think it’s very important,” Kathleen Koomen, sophomore in professional golf management and portrayor of Tecmessa, said. “It can affect people on a very personal, emotional level.”

“Ajax in Iraq” debuts in Williams Auditorium at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.