This week, in the span of more than 40 hours worth of workshops, Grand Valley State University alumnus and playwright Max Bush worked to further develop his play “An Identified Enemy” with a selected group of students.
The final play will be revealed in two staged readings at the Louis Armstrong Theatre in the Performing Arts Center in Allendale, Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Bush wrote “An Identified Enemy” after receiving an invite from GVSU theater professor Roger Ellis, to help students learn the full process of developing a play, while also creating an entertaining and publishable work of art.
“If (students) are interested in the theater and how plays are developed, because this is the first time this play will be in rehearsal, if they are interested in the theater in any way, this is how we create plays,” Bush said. “And it can open their eyes to how things are done and just how involved rewrites are, and just how collaborative the playwriting process is.”
Ellis said the opportunity is “a marriage made in Heaven” because of the talent and experience Bush brings to students, while still staying connected to GVSU.
“It celebrates Grand Valley by bringing a distinguished alumnus back to do his work here in the arts area,” Bush said. “It’s very important to have a major national playwright in-residence and the play will be published eventually (and) Grand Valley’s name with be concerned with it.”
The play is about Iraq war veterans that return home from tours overseas and have to assimilate back into society. It follows several characters, including a woman, and sheds light on the issues they face, like post-traumatic stress disorder.
Along with entertaining audiences, the play will inform people that do not have a direct connection to the war, or have trouble keeping up on current events, however that is not the main goal of it, Bush said.
Ellis said the politics and information included provides a different and more intimate angle on the war than what is usually presented in news programs.
“The war nowadays and the military nowadays are very removed from the lives of most people in the United States because there’s no compulsory military service,” Ellis said. “I think the average student or faculty member who hasn’t any direct contact with Iraq or what a wartime situation is, would find this very unusual play, very insightful and something that can complement what we hear about in the news or the radio.”
He said students viewing the play will be stimulated to learn more about the cultural conflict with the Islamic world and hopefully they will “realize some of the complexity of the problem of human relationship that go on in Iraq and with the military.”
Because the play focuses on a current political issue, students from several different majors who normally wouldn’t be interested in theater have a chance to get involved, Bush said.
“This play could involve pre-law, the journalism department, the political science department, as well as the theater department,” Bush said.
After the staged readings, a vote will determine if it is worthy of becoming the Fall 2012 production. Ellis doesn’t doubt that it will be a widely accepted play.
The GVSU students helping Bush will be attributed on the final published version, which brings them recognition to help with future careers.
Both shows are free to the public. For more information about Max Bush and “An Identified Enemy,” visit www.gvsu.edu/theatre.