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Feast of Crispian Participating Veterans and Volunteers

Heroes of the Week

Nov. 12, 2014
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The Battery Factory, a nonprofit organization that focuses on igniting new performance and visual arts projects and organizations, is currently backing Feast of Crispian (FoC), a nonprofit program that uses Shakespeare plays as a tool to help veterans struggling with emotional and reintegration issues. This program is available to veterans of all branches within or outside of the VA free-of-charge with no thresholds for entry (such as discharge status or proof of PTSD diagnosis). Professional actors have worked pro bono with more than 100 veterans at the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center for close to two years now, using special performance techniques that allow vets to immediately speak lines and navigate emotional expression. FoC currently offers the workshop one weekend every other month.

“Our ultimate goal is to foster conversation between our vets and the larger community,” says FoC Co-Director Jim Tasse. “The weekend intensive includes teaching vets acting techniques, personalization and creating moments with each other on Saturday and then the public is invited to view the work being done on Sunday. We’re not scientists—us theater folk are doing this because it allows people to have an experience with something. It’s a cost-effective, non-medicated way of allowing our vets to feel again. Shakespeare’s language is so universal and it allows the vets to summon and use energy and emotion while feeling safe behind the mask of the character. This is powerfully effective and therapeutic. We are people serving the needs of the heroes and are very thankful for the opportunity.”

FoC is planning a full production of Julius Caesar with an all-veteran cast late next year and is looking to the larger Milwaukee vet community to take part. Volunteers from the theater community are needed, as well as those interested in providing lunch during the weekend intensives. The next workshop will be held the weekend of Nov. 15; the public is invited to watch and converse with the vets on Nov. 16 at Zablocki from 2:30-4 p.m. For more information, call 414-203-1960 or visit feastofcrispian.org.

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