November 13, 2014

Other than those who have served in the military and those who have loved them, few of us understand the human toll that war takes not just on the battlefield but on the home front. Basetrack One-Eight was a website created in 2010 by photojournalists embedded in the 1st Battalion/8th Marines that transmitted images and reports from southern Afghanistan and allowed Marines to stay in touch with family and friends back home during their deployment. En Garde Arts’ production of BASETRACK Live, now making its New York premiere as part of the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s 2014 Next Wave Festival, may bring the rest of us as close to understanding the devastating effects of war as any theatrical piece can. Combining live music, projections of interviews with Marines, and a two-character dramatization of a couple struggling with the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder, BASETRACK Live begins with a musical overture reminiscent of Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man” and with images of Marines as they are interviewed about their experiences in Afghanistan. The outstanding musical group includes Trevor Exter on cello, Kenneth Rodriguez on trumpet, Melanie “Mazz” Swift on violin, and Daniele Cavalca on percussion and keyboards.


November 12, 2014

“When I was in Afghanistan, all I wanted to do was come back to America. But when I got home to America, there was this empty feeling, and I just wanted to go back to Afghanistan.” That sobering statement, from a Marine who is at the center of the new show Basetrack Live, attests to the psychological disorientation faced by so many soldiers who have served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The experience of these American service members — fighting for their country abroad, and sometimes fighting new battles on the home front when they return — is given riveting life in this production, a powerfully moving work of documentary theater from the newly resurrected En Garde Arts company, run, now as before, by Anne Hamburger. The production, which can be seen at the Brooklyn Academy of Music through Saturday, weaves together the dramatized story of the Marine Corps infantryman AJ Czubai, played by Tyler La Marr, with video testimonials and photography featuring other members of the First Battalion Eighth Marine Regiment, which was deployed to Helmand Province in Afghanistan in 2010. The show, created by Edward Bilous and directed by Seth Bockley, was inspired by a web-based project of the same name that embedded journalists with the company and collected a rich trove of interviews with the Marines and their wives and girlfriends back home. (It also helped keep the service members and their families in communication, and created a social media forum for them in which they could share their stories.)