chapter  12
18 Pages

Going Outside the Wire

Service Members as Documentary Subjects in Black Watch and ReEntry
BySarah Beck

The military expression "going outside the wire" reflects the unpredictable time when troops leave the safety of their operating base. To critically understand the balance between sensationalizing traumatic experiences and communicating lived experience effectively in the age of new militarism, it becomes necessary to examine how theatre practitioners negotiate responsibilities to the service members as documentary subjects with their prospective audiences in the dramatization of war. The impulse for theatre practitioners to gravitate to the most harrowing aspects of war trauma for spectacle diminishes service members' multifaceted experiences, conflating events on the battlefield and the reintegration into civilian life. The writer character in Black Watch is utilized to illuminate civilian spectators' underlying enthusiasm for hearing war stories, often hidden behind a mask of good intentions. Adopting a more ethically considered approach to engaging combat veterans, Emily Ackerman and K. J. Sanchez's play ReEntry features verbatim dialogue taken directly from interviews with US Marines as a means of deconstructing spectator-sport militarism.