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For Ward Thinking

Jessica Goldberg's new play, part of the South Florida Theatre Festival, examines both sides of the controversy over the Iraq war.

Buddy Haardt and Brandon Morris in Ward 57
(© Susan Lerner)
"It seems like there are two experiences in the United States. There are those with loved ones and family members over in Iraq and there are those that don't have a connection with anyone in the service," says director Michael Bigelow Dixon of Jessica Goldberg's new play, Ward 57, which is getting its world premiere at Florida Stage.

The play follows Wendy, a Hollywood screenwriter, who goes undercover at Walter Reed Army Medical Center claiming to be a film researcher. "A lot of the films about war sometimes come out as a polemic against the war. On stage, it's a lot easier to have an intellectual argument," reflects Goldberg. Yet, far from being a preach-to-the-choir tirade, some of Ward 57's harshest criticism is reserved for anti-war filmmakers. "I think I was a little unfair to Hollywood," she says.

In her own research, Goldberg visited a school where over 70 percent of the students had family serving in Iraq. "Kids would tell me they get angry when they see anti-war protests, because, 'they're protesting against my dad.' I was one of those people who marched against the war," she admits. How does she feel about the whole situation now? "It's a lot more complicated," she says. "We definitely should not have gone there in the first place. How do we get out? I don't have the answer."


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