Iraq used to be merely a name on a map for many Americans before September 11, 2001. After nine years of war, it's still that for some. Perhaps that's how it always is -- we only have so much appetite or so much room for distant troubles and concerns. Yet soldiers deployed overseas and civilians in the war zone cannot not brush aside the harsh realities of conflict so easily.
As we think about our soldiers on Veterans Day, we need to remember to listen to the voices of those who are still in pain. Later this month, Harlem Stage will premiere the second installment of their ongoing performance series that engages with the stories of war that are far too often silenced or forgotten.
Poet-musician Mike Ladd's new piece is called “Sleep Song," and it joins together an ensemble of Iraqi, French and American poets and musicians, including composer-pianist Vijay Iyer, Maurice Decaul (Poet, USMC Iraq Veteran), Ahmed Abdul Hussein (Poet, Baghdad citizen), Ahmed Mukhtar (Oud) and Serge Teyssot-Gay (Guitar). These performers provide a microphone in both Arabic and English, as it states in the release, “to dreams that haunt civilians as well as soldiers."
Mike Ladd, taken during the World Premiere of "Holding It Down" at Harlem Stage.
"Sleep Song" reminds us that we need to open ourselves to the sad, scared, and scarred casualties, as well as to the brave and the compassionate civilians who endure conflict. It is a lesson we all need to remember.
"Sleep Song" runs November 30 through December 1 at Harlem Stage Gatehouse. Find more information here.
Take a look through the slideshow below to see more documentary theater and let us know your thoughts in the comments section.