‘The story of my life, sir’

CNU stages reading of scenes from Nancy Bell’s ‘Venus’ play as part of the International Conference on Global Status of Women and Girls

There are few things in life that interrupt the story of one’s life so drastically as war. Such is the case for Lee, the main speaker and sergeant during the Iraq war in Nancy Bell’s play, “Venus.”

Bringing together themes of gender roles, love, family dynamics and trauma of war, members of Theater CNU performed a staged reading of Bell’s play Saturday afternoon in the DSU Ballroom.

Set in 2004, the play features scenes in both Iraq and Chicago, where Lee and his Iraqi lover (and former translator) Munira settle after the war. Based loosely on actual events, the play follows their love story, resettling in America and the birth of their child, with cultural differences and impact of war taking center stage.

Directed by CNU Professor Gregg Lloyd, the readers sat in a row across stage, assuming different voices for their respective roles and rising to speak when prompted. With about six scenes performed for the audience, much of the dialogue centered on Lee (Peyton Creasy) and Munira (Nitya Kalidindi).   

After interviews and piecing together stories of those involved in the war, Bell wrote the play, intending to draw her audience in through real-life stories. 

In theater, “we work with the assumptions that human beings can experience and imagine the lives of other human beings,” Bell said. 

In preparing for the role of Lee, Creasy explained that he called his grandfather (a Vietnam war veteran) to get his perspective, because “the story deserves the justice of it being told properly.” 

Although the story explores elements of PTSD and trauma for soldiers in war, it is not in the most typical way, as those in the mortuary unit such as Lee experienced PTSD from a different perspective not necessarily entrenched in combat. 

“Throughout the reading, even when there were parts where he wasn’t talking about his PTSD, there were certain words that would catch him, and then set him off in a distant way,” Creasy said. 

~Kristen Ziccarelli, A&E Editor~


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