by Jason Klaiber, ECW Correspondent
The Arena Stage, located in southwest Washington D.C., has commissioned the production of Our War, a theatrical compilation of original monologues that reflects on the Civil War. Performed since October 21 and still running through November 9, Our War offers a contemporary spin on the momentous, nation-splitting conflict that occurred roughly century and a half ago.
A group of 25 playwrights—complete with Pulitzer, Tony, and Olivier Award winners—constructed the short monologues. Actors, as well as a litany of culturally prominent, Washington-based individuals, recite the pieces. Guest performers have included Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and political commentator Chris Matthews.
According to producers, diverse perspectives preserve the memory of the Civil War in the same vein as sepia photographs and journals scribed on the battlefields but also provide insightful commentary on how the war resonates in today’s world.
“Our War gives us a chance to investigate the question of who controls our accepted version of a historical narrative,” said director Anita Maynard-Losh. “Through this project and its multitude of voices and expressed points of view that are not traditionally heard, we have an opportunity to see how the U.S. Civil War impacts our collective society still today.”
The production is one of 12 works put together in conjunction with The National Civil War Project, a collaboration between five performing arts organizations—Arena Stage, the Alliance Theatre, the American Repertory Theater, CENTERSTAGE and the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center—and four universities— the George Washington University, Harvard University, the University of Maryland, Emory University. The National Civil War Project was initiated to commemorate the war’s 150th anniversary.
The remaining performances of Our War will take place at Arena Stage on Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost between $40 and $50. Tickets may be purchased online at arenastage.org, by phone at 202-488-3300 or at the Sales Office at 1101 Sixth St., SW, D.C.