An Interview: Katherine Skoretz, Director of American Soldiers

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We asked director Katherine Skoretz a few questions about her production of American Soldiers at The Studio Theatre. There are just three shows left! Don’t miss your chance to see this riveting drama.  

 1. Why did you choose to direct American Soldiers as a component of your PhD course of study? 

My dissertation focuses on the way that American plays have tried to understand reintegration in the post-September 11 return of soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan.  American Soldiers does something unique in that it doesn’t just point to a disconnect or a problem on the part of veterans, but also insists on social culpability for both the war and reintegration.  While each character expresses a unique viewpoint on war, society, and reintegration of the two, the primary question of the play is whether or not society has a responsibility toward veterans and toward how our social norms produce war and alienate veterans.  The play asks tough questions, but at the end reminds us that these questions proceed from and have consequences for the most human part of ourselves.  I think this is a really important conversation for our nation, and I think the stage is a good place for that conversation to start.

2. What approach did you take when directing American Soldiers?

In directing American Soldiers, I tried to imagine how the conversation being had between characters could be extended to the audience.  While the characters are a single and specific family, I felt that the conversation they were having and the viewpoints that they express are familiar and important to all Americans.  In casting and in rehearsal, I sought to understand and develop the Colletti’s as both a unique family and as a symbol of America, which is a diverse family.  The actors interact with the audience from podiums; their conversation is not just to convince each other, but also to convince us all.

3. What would you like the audience to take away from this production?

I hope that the audience feels that they are not only a part of this conversation but that they can make a difference.  Americans need to talk about and research these issues.  The play makes several views come alive, but leaves the ending unfinished.  It is my hope that the audience will see the space left at the ending as a call to active thought and involvement.

4. What were the challenges in directing this play?

The most difficult part of American Soldiers was the trip away from realism.  I deliberately modified the setting of this play, which originally takes place in a kitchen, in order to stylistically amplify the theme.  The concept was challenging and new for myself, the designers, and the actors.

5. If a potential audience member asked you to describe this production in three words, which would you use?

Challenging, Raw, Vital

6. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Come to the performance on November 23rd. The author, a playwright, filmmaker, and humorist, is visiting campus  and will be participating in a talk back about his script!

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