As a special engagement in its schedule, Shakespeare and Company offered Cry Havoc for two performances at the end of August. According to the information that the company provided this was an interactive play in which United States military veteran Stephan Wolfert incorporated some of Shakespeare’s military characters with his own experience. This production seemed to fit in well with the issues of war that are raised in Henry V which played for most of the season and with An Illiad which opens on October 3. An Illiad is a retelling of Homer’s epic poem updated to include references to all the wars since the Trojan War.
Bob and I wondered how one person could fill the Tina Packer stage. Now we know. The performance was one of the most stunning theatrical experiences we have had as Wolfert told his life story and his experiences in the military, utilizing speeches from Shakespeare’s plays at crucial moments. There are some of those speeches that we will never hear the same way again as a result of this performance.
The first half of the program took an hour and after the intermission, there was a discussion with the audience and with veterans in the audience and some who came up on stage. The importance of art as part of the healing process was evident both in Wolfert’s story and in comments from the audience. The reality of what it means to be wired for war and then not unwired was vividly shown.
We felt we had to share this experience on our program and we did so in the program below. I found videos on youtube with Stephan Wolfert talking about his work and have posted them as well. Hopefully, Shakespeare and Company will find a way to have Wolfert back again because his work is not only important for veterans, but for all the rest of us who need to understand what the veterans have experienced and what they need when they come back alone, unprepared into a world different from the one they have left.
https://www.youtube.com/embed/tT6kAyNAz4k“>Stephan Wolfert Part 1
https://www.youtube.com/embed/FkJ2PA0CbiQ“>Stephan Wolfert Part 2