FAYETTEVILLE: Gilbert Theater tackles military PTSD in new play - CBS46 News

Fayetteville theater tackles military PTSD in new play

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'Hollow Men' director Brian Kline looks over the stage before Tuesday's final rehearsal. 'Hollow Men' director Brian Kline looks over the stage before Tuesday's final rehearsal.
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. - Fayetteville's Gilbert Theater is bringing the topic of post-traumatic stress disorder to the stage.

A play called "Hollow Men" aims to convey how the effects of war do not completely go away when military service members return home. The theater's resident playwright, Stephen Miles, a Vietnam veteran, wrote "Hollow Men."

"Whereas I went to Vietnam for two tours, they're going five, six, seven tours,” Miles said. “I can't even imagine that."

The lingering effects of those tours inspired Miles to write "Hollow Men." While many troops readjust pretty well, many others do not.

"It's not an upbeat play I'm sorry to say, but I think it's a realistic one," Miles said. "I hope it makes [the audience] think about what our nation does in our name and the cost."

The play opens Wednesday night, and the first performance is considered a special preview night for the military community. The Wednesday night show is free to all active duty service members, veterans and their immediate family members.

Details on show times and tickets can be found in the “Hollow Men” section of the Gilbert Theater's website.

"They read about [PTSD], but they don't go through it,” commented actor Sebastian Arroyo. “This play is very visceral and raw."

The play’s actors realize their scenes about PTSD may be hard to watch at times, but that's part of the reality.

"Let's be honest. PTSD is not happy and fluffy,” actor Nicki Hart said. “There's nothing really super fun about it, but it can be something that can become a triumph."

Through it all, the actors, Miles and director Brian Adam Kline hope bringing the story to stage helps a community so closely associated with the military. Kline said he thinks there is value in bringing the topic of PTSD into the theater. He said it may provide a door to deeper understanding and thought about the issue.

"This is something that's important to the community,' said director Brian Adam Kline. "It starts a conversation -- with the issues we've been having with taking care of, with the overflow in the VA.
"Even though they think that they understand it, it's really important to put that out there for other people to see that as well.”

Actor Stanley Seay said he hopes the play will get audience members thinking and talking about PTSD.

"It needs to be told. It shouldn't be swept up under the carpet. It shouldn't be ignored," Seay said. “[We’re] not making judgments, not making calls, just putting it out there and hopefully we get a little conversation going on the topic.”

Hart had a similar thought. Connections to the military brought her to the Fayetteville area, and she admits to having concerns about veterans’ wellbeing. She hopes members of the audience will leave with a different perspective on PTSD.

“[This play could] maybe turn that blind eye into an open eye so that they can do something to help their neighbor, or their friend or their family member," Hart said.

CFRT also planning military productions

Fayetteville's Cape Fear Regional Theater is also planning to share military stories on stage. A special section of the theater's website reads, "CFRT wants to hear your stories about the special strengths and challenges military spouses face during and after deployments. We want to hear from all types of spouses including spouses of active duty, veteran spouses, spouses of wounded warriors, dual service spouses, same sex spouses, and Gold Star spouses."

More details can be found here.

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Brandon Herring

Brandon is a North Carolina native and UNC alum who lives in Fayetteville, and covers Cumberland County and the Sandhills. Returning to North Carolina to work as a journalist is a dream come true for Brandon. More>>

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