Commissioned by Arena Stage for the National Civil War Project and composed of vignettes by 25 playwrights, Our War also features different leaders from the D.C. community, including Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, MSNBC's Chris Matthews and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.). It continues through Nov. 9.
The playwrights represented in Our War include Maria Agui Carter, Lydia Diamond, Amy Freed, Diane Glancy, Joy Harjo, Samuel D. Hunter, Naomi Iizuka, Aditi Kapil, Dan LeFranc, David Lindsay-Abaire, Ken Ludwig, Taylor Mac, Ken Narasaki, Lynn Nottage, Robert O'Hara, Heather Raffo, Charles Randolph-Wright, Tanya Saracho, Betty Shamieh, John Strand, Tazewell Thompson, William S. Yellow Robe, Jr. and Karen Zacarías as well as two students participating through Arena Stage's National Civil War Project partnership with George Washington University: Zinhle Essamuah and Nicholas Ong.
Our War guest performers include Deborah Amos (NPR International Correspondent); Tamara Christian (COO, International Spy Museum); The Rev. Canon Jan Naylor Cope (Washington National Cathedral); Dr. John J. DeGioia (President, Georgetown University); Anita Dunn (Managing Director, SKDKnickerbocker); Jack Evans (D.C. Councilmember, Ward 2); Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Associate Justice, Supreme Court of the United States); Kaya Henderson (Chancellor, D.C. Public Schools); The Very Rev. Gary Hall (Dean, Washington National Cathedral); Kaya Henderson (Chancellor, D.C. Public Schools); The Rev. Dr. H. Beecher Hicks, Jr. (Senior Servant, Metropolitan Baptist Church); Hari Jones (Assistant Director and Curator, African American Civil War Museum); Dr. Cornelius M. Kerwin (President, American University); Dr. Steven Knapp (President, George Washington University); Chris Matthews ("Hardball," MSNBC); Anita McBride (Executive in Residence, School of Public Affairs, American University and former Chief of Staff to First Lady Laura Bush); James P. Moran (Congressman, D-VA); Eleanor Holmes Norton (Congresswoman, D-D.C.); Archbishop Alfred A. Owens, Jr. (D. Min., Pastor, Greater Mount Calvary Holy Church); Diane Rehm (The Diane Rehm Show, WAMU); Andy Shallal (entrepreneur and owner of Busboys and Poets); Tom Sherwood (NBC reporter); Rabbi Gil Steinlauf (Senior Rabbi, Adas Israel Congregation); Constantine Stavropoulos (owner of Tryst, The Diner, Open City, The Coupe and Tryst at The Phillips); Joan Wages (President & CEO, National Women's History Museum); and Judy Woodruff (Co-Anchor and Managing Editor, PBS Newshour).
Kelly Renee Armstrong, Ricardo Frederick Evans, John Lescault, Tuyet Pham, Lynette Rathnam and Sara Waisanen comprise the ensemble.
Here's how the production is billed: "An esteemed collection American playwrights, including winners of the Pulitzer Prize, Tony Award and Olivier Award, creates a dynamic new theatrical event reflecting on the repercussions of the U.S. Civil War. Through a rich tapestry of short monologues, a core ensemble of gifted actors, accompanied by notable Washingtonians such as Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Eleanor Holmes Norton and Chris Matthews, explore — through diverse perspectives — the historical memory and present-day reverberations of the U.S. Civil War. Our War uses the power of live theater to bring new understanding to the shades of Blue and Gray that define one of the most significant periods of American history." "Around the time of the development of The National Civil War Project I became aware of Kwame Kwei-Armah and CenterStage's My America project, which asked 50 renowned playwrights the simple question, 'What is my America?' As one of our partners of The National Civil War Project, I discussed with him my desire to take their brilliant idea and apply it specifically to the American Civil War and his encouragement and excitement helped drive forward this premiere event and collaboration with such distinguished playwrights, Washingtonians and artists. Together through Our War we explore the impact of a young country at war with itself," artistic director Molly Smith said in a previous statement.
"Our War gives us a chance to investigate the question of who controls our accepted version of a historical narrative," Maynard-Losh added. "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 creative team of Our War includes dramaturg Jocelyn Clarke, set designer Robbie Hayes, costume designer T. Tyler Stumpf, lighting designer Catherine Girardi, sound designer Elisheba Itoop and stage manager Kurt Hall.
Tickets and more information are available by calling (202) 488-3300 or visiting arenastage.org.