Posted at 2:23 p.m., Oct. 16, 2014

'Our Ajax' to illuminate big issues

Almost everyone has been affected at least once by suicide. Whether it was someone close to you, someone you know in passing, or someone you looked up to such as celebrity Robin Williams, one point is for sure: Suicide is real.

Laramie County Community College’s theater department will raise awareness at the end of October through the play “Our Ajax” written by Timberlake Wertenbaker. The play is a take on Sophocles’ “Ajax” about a Trojan soldier who commits suicide.

The modern version of this will be very similar, except instead of the Trojan wars, the play will center on the current events of the Iraq-Afghan war.

Nontraditional play one to see

This play will be one to see because it’s nontraditional production. “Our Ajax” will be performed through reading, or otherwise known as reader’s theater. This is different because the audience will see the actors on stage with actual scripts, different from traditional theater in which actors memorize their lines.

Student-director Megan Kraushaar described the play as very contemporary. “Most people are skeptical about a reader’s theater because it’s not traditional,” she said. “But the best part about it is that we can include more people who would otherwise crumple under the responsibility of memorizing lines.”

With the modernized version, the story centers on post-traumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD. The playwright, Wertenbaker, used research from interviews and articles to center the story on an issue that is very common, yet not much discussed.

“The great thing about the reader’s theater idea is that the audience can focus on what is really important: the content,” Kraushaar said. “PTSD is a serious issue, and it’s extremely common coming from a military town like Cheyenne.”

Proceeds benefit charities

Another great part about this play is half of the proceeds from ticket sales will go to the Wounded Warrior Project, and the other half will go to the Grace for Two Brothers suicide prevention foundation. The Wounded Warrior’s Project was organized to raise awareness and enlist the public's aid for the needs of injured service members. Grace for Two Brothers is a local foundation dedicated to suicide prevention and awareness.

“I wanted to do something for the Wounded Warrior’s Project because it’s just such a well-known cause,” Kraushaar said. “However, I also wanted to do something local, so I chose Grace for Two Brothers as the second charity.”

Certainly, “Our Ajax” will be anything but ordinary. Two Iraqi war veterans (one playing the lead of Ajax) along with a handful of new actors who have never stepped on a stage will round out the cast.

“I want people’s eyes opened. If suicide is a thing on television, or in a book or movie, it can be talked about more. But when it is right in front of us, then we are scared,” Kraushaar said. “I hope this play is an icebreaker.”

“Our Ajax” will run Oct. 17-18 and 23-24-25. Doors open at 7 p.m.; show starts at 7:30 p.m. Call 307-432-1626 to reserve tickets at the box office.


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