Bent Compass

Bent Compass

Written by Neil Brookshire and Colin Sesek (based on transcribed interviews with Colin about his deployment as an Army Medic in Iraq in 2006 – 07.)

Performed by Neil Brookshire

Directed by Phil Darius Wallace

Originally co-produced by The Weidner Center and Dirt Hills Productions

Graphic design by Troy Williams

(This play contains explicit language and descriptions of violence.)

Next Performance:

November 11, 2022 – 7 PM
The Tarlton Theatre
(405-409 W Walnut St Green Bay, WI)
presented by The Weidner Downtown

(Please Note: This video contains graphic language and descriptions of violence.)


Colin and I met while working for the Idaho Shakespeare Festival in 2004, the summer before Colin joined the Army. I remember him bringing in samples of MREs (Meals Ready to Eat), and discussing his plans to become an Army Medic.

We stayed in touch throughout Colin’s deployments, but it wasn’t until years later that an idea to create a play entered our minds. It was 2013 and I was fleshing out the background of a character in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, one who was returning from combat, and I thought who better to talk to than Colin. Hearing his perspective helped me anchor my performance. And the more we talked, the more I wanted to explore creating a project based solely on his experiences. Colin was incredibly generous and forthcoming with information and insight. It inspired me to keep exploring his story, his journey. We recorded weekly phone conversations.

Once the initial recordings were made, the transcriptions and editing began. Gradually, the form of the project revealed itself: a monologue play exploring how war shifts a person’s concept of normal. Colin said from the beginning that he wanted it to be as honest as possible, to get at what it’s really like.

The story arc follows Colin’s journey from being a fresh recruit to a seasoned veteran, how experiences shaped his thinking and perspective on the world, and how his life has changed since. The text is lifted directly from transcriptions we made from his stories, and of course, sprinkled with quotes from Shakespeare. After all, that’s how we met. The result is a unique collaboration using the best of our skills and experience; he lived it, we wrote it, I perform it. We think it speaks to civilians and veterans in different but rewarding ways.

community outreach

In addition to the virtual offering, The Weidner Center coordinated public discussions, facilitated by journalist John Maino (Author of FRONTLINES WORLD WAR II – Personal Accounts of Wisconsin Veterans). These discussions provided context for faculty members and staff of UWGB for addressing some of the unique challenges veterans face when returning to civilian life. This kind of community outreach is intrinsic to Bent Compass.

Production history

1/4/2020 – First reading at The Community Library in Ketchum, ID.

Memorial Day, 2020 – Live Audio Broadcast.

2/24/2021 – Recorded Performance/Community Talkback. Produced by Kelli Strickland, Artistic/Executive Director of the Weidner Center, Green Bay, WI.

6/4 – 6/9/2022 – Cincy Fringe Primary Line-up, Cincinnati, OH.

9/2/2022 – Boise, ID at LED.

11/11/2022 – Green Bay, WI at the Tarlton Theatre. Presented by the Weidner Downtown

In the news

Courtesy of KIVITV
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