BENT COMPASS is a solo play by Neil Brookshire and Colin Sesek. Based on transcribed interviews with Colin about his deployment as an Army Medic in Iraq in 2006 – 07.
(This play contains graphic language and descriptions of violence.)
Colin and I were both at the Idaho Shakespeare Festival in 2004, the summer before he went into basic training. We even discussed his enlistment, and what it meant to him, in the dressing room before shows. We stayed in touch over the years.
In 2013, I was preparing to play Claudio in Much Ado About Nothing. I thought a key aspect to the character of Claudio was the fact he had just returned from combat. I thought of Colin and got in touch to discuss some of the challenges of coming home from combat, how it changes a person. Colin was incredibly generous and forthcoming with information and insight. It inspired me to keep exploring his story, his journey. So we began to have weekly talks with the vague idea to write something based on his experiences as an Army Medic in Iraq.
Long story short, eight years later, we have continued to collaborate to create a play about Colin’s experiences in Iraq as an Army Medic. It’s a one of a kind piece. He lived it, we wrote it, I perform it. We owe a huge thank you to The Community Library in Ketchum, Idaho. They took a leap in hosting our play for its first public reading.
For Memorial Day 2020, I performed a live audio reading, online, free to the public. From that reading, it was picked up for further development and production.
The combined efforts and resources of The Weidner Center and Wisconsin Arts Board made it possible to create a staged, multi-camera recording of BENT COMPASS. It premiered online on Feb 24, 2021, and due to a good reception, played an encore presentation the following week.
The Weidner Center coordinated two public discussions, facilitated by journalist John Maino (Author of FRONTLINES WORLD WAR II – Personal Accounts of Wisconsin Veterans). The intention was for veterans and faculty/staff at UW Green Bay to hear the process of creating the play out of real life experiences, as well as to discuss the underlying themes of the piece. The discussions also provided context for faculty and staff in addressing some of the unique challenges veterans face when returning to civilian life. This kind of community outreach is intrinsic to BENT COMPASS.
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