Inspired by Shakespeare, military veteran cries ‘Havoc’ on Morristown stage

 By Marie Pfeifer

Without costume or props, Stephen Wolfert gave an impassioned, evocative story about the realities of war in "Cry Havoc" at St. Peter's Episcopal Church. Marie Pfeiffer photo

Without costume or props, Stephen Wolfert gave an impassioned, evocative story about the realities of war in “Cry Havoc” at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. Marie Pfeiffer photo

The weapons and issues differ; but war’s horror, loss of life and emotional crippling are the same in Shakespeare’s “Richard III” and Stephan Wolfert’s one-man play named after a famous line in the bard’s play.

Wolfert recently performed “Cry Havoc,” relating his experiences of growing up and the dehumanizing effects of the violence of war, during a Sunday morning Adult Forum at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Morristown.

Wolfert’s graphic, vibrant reenactment of a fire-fight, on a stage without props or scenery for support, came alive as he intertwined the words of Shakespeare with his own.

One could see the night-sky lit up with rockets and gun fire and hear the screams of the soldiers as Wolfert realized he needed to direct his men, or they would die.

In a sometimes witty and more often dramatic monologue, Wolfert related how the United States military trains men and women to become killers of other human beings to fight a war.

Wolfert’s play also addressed what happens when the war is over for them: They are left with feelings of violence and shame that they do not know what to do with or how to live with. The play provided perspective on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and why the suicide rate for veterans is so high, as well as gave hope for a path back to communal living for our nation’s soldiers.

Wolfert is the founding artistic director of the Veterans Center for the Performing Arts in New York, where original works by military veterans are developed and produced for the stage. He is also the head of outreach at the Bedlam Theatre in New York, where he connects the professional acting company with city youth and military veterans to help them use theater to heal, connect and forge on. And he is the creator and facilitator of De-Cruit, which uses classical actor training to “undo” military training and trauma from violence.

An enthusiastic audience watched "Cry Havoc" at St. Peter's. Marie Pfeiffer photo

An enthusiastic audience watched “Cry Havoc” at St. Peter’s. Marie Pfeiffer photo

 

 



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