Theater performance of Othello to highlight PTSD, veterans issues

(Lean & Hungry Theater)

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A new take on a Shakespearean classic is coming later this month to the Washington, D.C. area, and it’s coming to support the United Service Organizations.

Jessica Hansen, the executive director of Lean & Hungry Theater told FedScoop in an email that the group’s March 22 production of Othello will take a look at the similarities between William Shakespeare’s early 17th century tragedy and soldiers returning home after trauma in war. A portion of the proceeds of the production will go to the USO of Metropolitan Washington-Baltimore. The USO traditionally works with soldiers and soldiers’ families at home and abroad.

Elaine Rogers, the CEO and President of USO-Metro, said in a statement that the branch was honored to be a part of the “unique production.”

“[The play] goes a long way to educating the community about the challenges our nation’s troops and veterans are facing,” Rogers said.

This version of the play was co-produced with WSC Avant Bard Theatre. WSC’s artistic director Tom Prewitt came up with the idea of a relationship between Othello and post traumatic stress disorder.

“[Tom] was noodling on the idea that Othello was suffering from PTSD, and once we started looking at that idea, it became clear that Shakespeare knew what war does to troops,” Hansen said. “Not only is Othello clearly suffering from PTSD, but Iago as well. Cassio’s alcoholism and rage issues can be examined through that lens at well.”

The performance will take place at ArtiSphere at Rosslyn Metro, and will begin with a 5 p.m. pop-up veterans art show. The play’s performance will be recorded for radio beginning at 6 p.m. and will conclude with a panel discussion on veterans’ issues and art therapy at 7 p.m. Tickets are available online at www.leanandhungrytheater.com.

“I personally feel very strongly that this is an issue that our community should be talking about,” Hansen said. “When our veterans suffer from PTSD, it’s not just their family members who need to cope and help them. We all have a responsibility to our community, and this version of Othello takes a look at that.”

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