Thursday, November 17, 200

Q&A with Zacory Boatright
Author of "An Army of One"

By Matthew C. Sevcik


Q: Where did you get the idea for the play?

Zacory Boatright: That is an excellent question. The idea of the play came from, as you can probably guess, reading and experiencing and being exposed to the things that were happening in Iraq over the course of the last four years.

Writer of An Army of One, Zacory Boatright. Boatright is a KU Gradute in English.

I first got the idea for writing a play about September 11th after September 11th. But, then I got this idea where there are three generations of men in the same family who are overlapping and re-experiencing the same things. And then, I saw some things in the news that were hard too for me to react to. I didn’t know how to respond to things like Abu Grahaib. Or Fallujah and Najaf, situations where so many soldiers were dying. I was really frustrated and I needed a way to vent that because I’m not in the military and I wanted to be able to say how much I support our troops. I was so frustrated, on their behalf. And it was one of those things where there was a culmination of a current idea I had, and a need to respond to what to what was happening. And that’s how the character of Josh came about. In fact, the original name of the play was Josh’s War.

Q: It’s interesting the way the title, An Army of One, doesn’t really make sense until near the end. Sort of like when an Army is victorious, they are all victorious together, but when it fails, it fails together. It’s not just the troops that were at Abu Grahaib that failed, it gets applied to the entire military. Can you comment?

ZB: Well, let me respond to your sentiment there. This play is about responsibility, it’s about honor. It’s about as much as we own our successes in Iraq, we must own our failures. I don’t think that An Army of One takes a position on those things. I don’t think it says we failed or we succeeded. It does say that we might be failing certain veterans that are coming home with problems, but more than that, in our failures, we need to own them, we need to accept responsibility for that. Because we have failed, and we have succeeded. And I fully believe that some of the things we are doing in Iraq are going to change the Middle East for the better, but then again, there are other things.

Q: Were you at all apprehensive at all about the subject material because this play deals with such sensitive material as 9/11, PTSD and Abu Grahaib? Were you ever worried that it’d be too shocking or too much for people?

ZB: How do you begin to answer the war issue? You do as much research as you can, and you hope that you have represented them as well as you can. In the end, you have to hope, you have to make a decision within yourself to make sure that the material honors those organizations as much as it criticizes them. I feel that I’ve done that.

Q: Given that the subject material is still going on, did you find yourself constantly revising?

ZB: Well, writing is revision, and so that was incredibly hard. Every single day, new material comes out that could affect the show, but, what I had to do was at some point I just had to draw a line in the sand and say “no more.” When Josh talks about the Green Zone in Iraq, that’s the most contemporary piece of “news” in the play. There are still things coming out of Iraq right now, but you’ll notice I’m not talking about the elections, the parliament, the constitution, all of the things that are still going on in Iraq. Stuff like the number of soldiers dead, I tried to stay away from stuff like that, while addressing other things. And it’s definitely a balancing act.

KU students Joe Carey as Josh Now and Candice Bondank as Katie rehearse for An Army of One.

Q: Someone sees this play ten years from now, or twenty years from now, and do you think it will have the same effect? Is it still producible? Will it still have relevance?

ZB: I think so. And the reason why is that I wrote Josh, the main character, as a person who should be living in the present. And people that are dealing with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) are people who deal with it for the rest of their lives.

I tried to make a point of it with a line that Josh says: “I’m broken, Katie. This isn’t something that is ever going to go away.” As much as you can heal the wounds, they are wounds that will always be a part of you. And that’s one of the reasons that the Vietnam vet is included in this play. It is to show you that, as much as that person is a stable person, you know, he has a job, he’s interviewing Josh, he’s a balanced person, but what he says to the audience is that he can be balanced but still not be able to mow his lawn. It’s something he lives with even now. He’s living, but it’s still there.

An Army of One runs through Nov. 20th at the Inge theatre in Murphy Hall. For time and ticket info, contact the University Theatre at (785) 864-2864.

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