College of Charleston SCHOOL OF THE ARTS

CofC Theatre Parallels Tragic War Incidents From Different Times

The Department of Theatre and Dance at the College of Charleston School of the Arts will stage “Ajax in Iraq,” directed by faculty member Mark Landis. Written by Ellen McLaughlin, the play’s central figure, “A.J.,” is a female member of a forward deployed U.S. Army unit in Iraq. A.J. has been in combat, has fought with valor, and performed heroic acts amidst violent horrors. The wounds she suffers are not inflicted by the enemy, and her suffering is left shamefully unaddressed. In ancient mythology, Ajax was a fierce Greek warrior, whose own descent into tortured madness is intertwined with the modern tale of A.J. in Iraq, along with the voices of many others whose wounds, caused by the wars they fought on our behalf, are too frequently unseen.

Director Mark Landis says, “This play has touched all of us in ways I didn’t expect. Sure, there are some intriguing perspectives the play provides on mythological figures like Ajax and Athena, and on real historical figures like Gertrude Bell, the British spy who invented the nation of Iraq.  But what this play contains that has powerfully schooled us during rehearsals has been the voices of its warriors: the men and women we send to do violence on our behalf.  Men and women who, once in combat, will never return to us without secret pain we can’t imagine.  I hope our audiences come away from it more sensitive to what our veterans go through – I know the play has had that effect on many of us already.”

DETAILS: The play contains adult language and content. The show will run Thursday, Nov. 19 through Monday, Nov. 23, 2015. Curtain times will be 7:30 p.m., with an additional 2:00 p.m. showing on Sunday, November 22. Performances will take place at the Emmett Robinson Theatre in the Simons Center for the Arts, 54 Saint Philip St. Tickets $20 for general public; $15 for senior citizens, College of Charleston employees and non-College of Charleston students; and $12 for College of Charleston students. Tickets and partial season subscriptions can be purchased online at or by calling (843) 953-6306. (Online season brochure is linked here.)