May 22, 2013
Theater of Combat
Posted on Aug 31, 2011
Excerpts from two of the plays featured in “Acts of War: Iraq and Afghanistan in Seven Plays”—Bill Cain’s “9 Circles” and Lydia Stryk’s “American Tet.”
“THE TRIAL OF DANIEL EDWARD REEVES”
Lawyer for the Defense.
The LAWYER from Circle 5 defends Daniel who is sitting center. Listening. Weighing.
The key element of this scene will appear later - word vs. flesh. We begin with word.
The crime we are discussing only ended in Iraq. It began in a recruiting office in Texas.
There - a recruiting officer met a deeply troubled 19-year-old with convictions for alcohol, drug abuse, violence. He had a personality disorder and everybody in town knew it. To make his quota, this recruiting office obtained a morals waivers for him, and this disturbed young man was soon strapped up with world class weaponry to fight in a war so lacking in popular support that an army could not be assembled to fight it - without candidates like this young man.
Lawyer for the Prosecution.
THE WOMAN enters - professionally dressed.
I’m all for sympathy for the soldier, but mustn’t someone speak for the girl.
A cotton dress. I want to speak to you about a cotton dress.
Young girls need protection. The girl we are concerned with - living in a war zone - needed more than most. She had a cotton dress.
She had had another defense - her family. But a soldier deprived her of the protection of her family when he herded her father, her mother and 4-year-old sister into the family bedroom and murdered them in cold blood.
This soldier then proceeded from the bedroom to the living room where two of his fellow soldiers were holding the girl on the floor and - against them - against him - the protection of a cotton dress was not sufficient. This is the crime we are investigating.
Acts of War: Iraq and Afghanistan in Seven Plays
By Karen Malpede (Editor); Michael Messina (Editor); Bob Shuman (Editor); Chris Hedges (Foreword by)
Northwestern University Press, 400 pages
OK. Let’s investigate the crime. Starting with the murder.
Let’s look at the weapon.
He looks around. Finds none.
Let us investigate the rape. Let’s examine the DNA evidence.
There are photographs.
Without a single bit of evidence to back them up - for all we know they could have been taken on a studio back lot.
Strange trial in which there is absolutely no evidence.
There is testimony.
There is a flood of testimony.
A ritual was invented in the ancient near east - not far from where the events we are discussing took place. For terrible crimes, all blame was placed on an animal and the animal was driven into the wilderness to die.
We are more enlightened now. We would never allow an animal’s life to be sacrificed. And yet. Our government - from the president on down - is calling for the scapegoating of a young man - the lowest ranking man involved in this admittedly horrifying event.
What we are discussing did not take place in the mythic past, but in the nearly immediate
A moment. Then -
He’s my lawyer, but I like her.
This isn’t about me. Go on.
He changes out of his prison jumpsuit.
While the attorneys continue their impassioned words, REEVES strips naked, washes himself and dresses in clean white tee-shirt, distinctive under-pants - diaper actually- , new institutional white pants. The trial continues over the physical, ritual transformation of Reeves.
The testimony. Though much of the testimony in this case is compromised, there is one
No dispute there.
To his everlasting credit, he sought help. He went to an army psychiatrist, asked for help, was given unrecorded medication, told to get a night’s sleep and was recycled the next day to patrol the area known as The Triangle of Death. With disastrous consequences. What were his superiors expecting?
I want to be careful here.
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