Image Women in combat inspire performance in 'Bullet Catchers'

Women in combat inspire performance in ‘Bullet Catchers’

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Still a controversial issue within the military community, opponents to women serving in combat roles raise questions about its impact to mission and culture. Proponents argue for equality of opportunity, reminding us that even before women were allowed in combat roles, they were already serving in combat situations.

One thing is for sure, the change in policy has had an impact on the individual and platoon level.  

Capt. Kristen Griest (L) and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver receive their ranger tabs at Ranger school graduation becoming the first females to graduate from the Army’s elite and grueling 62-day Ranger school, at Fort Benning, Georgia (Aug. 2015)(REUTERS/Tami Chappell)

This July will see the world premiere of a new play called Bullet Catchers, a term for those serving in the infantry, which looks at the issue of women serving in combat roles. The production is the brainchild of Maggie Moore and Julia Sears, who have been working on the project for the past two years. The story is based on interviews they conducted with veterans and service members of all four branches, from the Vietnam era to the present.  

Bullet Catchers is told in part through dance, music, poetry and is written collectively by Moore, Sears, and the cast of eight actors who include three veterans. Collectively they are the Women in Combat Theatre Project.  

Maggie Moore first became involved with the issue of women in combat roles while serving as the Deputy Director of Leadership Development at the Truman National Security Project. Once the Department of Defense had announced a review of the issue, Maggie started a campaign called No Exceptions to support full inclusion of women in combat roles. By October 2015 she had moved to New York City, and excitedly watched news reports of the first women to earn Ranger tabs.

Image Maggie Moore and Julia Sears
‘Bullet Catchers’ creators Maggie Moore and Julia Sears

Maggie’s enthusiasm inspired Julia Sears to suggest that it would make a great topic for the theater. Sears, an experienced director of Off-Broadway and Regional Theater, was beginning a residency at the Stonington Opera House in Maine.

The play is aimed at a broad audience – civilians, veterans, and current service members alike. During the creative process, Sears came to realize how little many civilians knew about the issue of women in combat, but that many were excited to learn more about it. Veterans, who were divided on the issue of women in combat itself, shared a curiosity as to how the policy will play out. Moore was interested to hear from veterans why they chose to serve, and found the true stories much more diverse than what is currently portrayed in popular culture.  

Image 'Bullet Catchers' from the Women in Combat Theatre Project
‘Bullet Catchers’ from the Women in Combat Theatre Project

Both women think that veterans and service members will appreciate how authentic the characters in the play are, and have received positive feedback on their research methods and efforts to understand those impacted by this policy change. They hope audiences will see a universality in the struggles women face in many male-dominated career fields.

In addition to an emotionally available and authentic portrayal of service women and men, the production hopes to help bring together veterans and civilians. In keeping with this spirit, the crew is also made up of a mixture of both groups.  

After a limited run produced by Clutch Productions and Josiah Grimm at Judson Memorial Church, New York City, the creators hope they can stage a larger New York production, followed by a tour. They aim to bring the play to cities across the U.S., and also to military bases where they can perform for service members and their families.

Sandra W. Lee (ATÉ/ Co-writer) of 'Bullet Catchers' - Army Combat Veteran (OIF)
Sandra W. Lee (ATÉ/ Co-writer) of ‘Bullet Catchers’ – Lee is also a U.S. Army Combat Veteran (OIF)

Bullet Catchers runs in NYC from July 20th to August 5th. Tickets are $20 at www.bulletcatcherstheplay.com/tickets. Veterans and active military members can receive discounted rates by emailing bulletcatchersboxoffice@gmail.com.

Bullet Catchers
Julia Sears (Director/ Co-creator)
Maggie Moore (Associate Director/ Co-creator)
Adrienne Brammer (Sgt. Kalli Kovas/ Co-writer/ Veteran liaison)
Rebecca Hirota (Sgt. Athena Pajau Yan Kostopolis/Co-writer)
Sandra W. Lee (ATÉ/ Co-writer)
Jay Myers (Sgt. Richard Lampido/Co-writer)
Victoria Nassif (Lt. Anouk Eshara/Co-writer)
Jessica Vera (Col. Maya De Los Santos/Co-writer)
Emma Walton (Pvt. Joan Boudica/Co-writer)
Damion J. Williams (Pvt. Reo/Co-writer)
Josiah Grimm (Producer)

Robert Cain, Lima Charlie News Culture Correspondent

Robert Cain is a veteran of the United States Air Force, where he served six years as a Korean cryptologic language analyst. After an honorable discharge, he spent six years supporting the Defense Intelligence Agency as an all-source intelligence contractor.  Rob is currently studying urban policy issues at Columbia University, and will earn his B.A. in Urban Studies this May.  He is a Veterans for Global Leadership Fellow, and former community outreach coordinator for New York City’s Mayor’s Office of Veterans’ Affairs (now the Department of Veterans’ Services).  Rob is an avid theater and movie goer and is trying to decide if it’s worth holding onto his massive DVD collection in our new digital age. Follow Rob on Twitter @imrobcain

Lima Charlie provides global news, insight & analysis by military veterans and service members Worldwide.

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