Nominated for six Helen Hayes Awards including Outstanding Play, Choreography, Director, Ensemble, and two nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor Occupied Territories took home the award for Outstanding Choreography on May 23, 2016.
Occupied Territories is scheduled for a four week run at the NYC off-Broadway theater complex 59E59 in the Autumn of 2017.
Steve Maxner, who has lived on the Martha’s Vineyard for more than 25 years, served our country in Vietnam from 1969-70.
Last fall, Steve’s daughter, playwright Mollye Maxner, reached out to us here at Martha’s Vineyard Community Services to tell us about her play, Occupied Territories. She knew of Tom Bennett’s ongoing work with Veterans and of the deep dedication Community Services has long shown by making sure that Veterans are well supported here at home. Mollye was reaching out to ask for our partnership in order to bring her critically acclaimed play here to the Island during the summer of 2016.
In Mollye’s words, “My father has carried much within him all of these years, and some of that weight continues to be carried by his family. I grew up acutely aware that my father bore a lot of pain and regret and an incredibly deep and complicated sadness. Then, a few years ago, he opened up an entirely new side of his experience as a soldier as he spoke of the connection he had to his fellow soldiers, a love that transcends all other love in his life.”
That conversation opened the door to something Mollye had long had an interest in doing. As the daughter of a Vietnam veteran, she had always felt a strong pull to unpack some of her Dad’s experiences and their impact on the lives of his wife and five children. By looking into one small group of soldiers and the ramification of their war experience on one particular family, Occupied Territories is a theater experience that definitely unpacks some of the intergenerational effects of trauma while honoring the transcendent love between soldiers and in families.
Why, Martha’s Vineyard? Beyond her own father, Mollye learned that more than 400 veterans make their home here. With a goal of taking the production around the country, her dream was that it be launched by the veterans of Martha’s Vineyard. It is an idea we all embraced and we’ve made great progress together in making that happen. The original cast has been signed and the American Legion of Edgartown will provide a home for a week of rehearsals and a week of performances – right in the heart of summer. Friends will provide housing for the actors, and veterans will help to build the set.
Occupied Territories is staged in the round with just 25 seats ranged in a circle surrounding the performance. The first three performances, scheduled for August 2, 3, and 4th, will be reserved for Veterans and their significant others. A public performances is scheduled for the evening of Friday, August 5th. A special dress rehearsal for sponsors will be held on Monday, August 1st. Each performance will be followed by a “Talk Back” session.
The impact of this production is vividly described in the quote below:
“Occupied Territories is the most moving theater production that I have experienced. I saw the opening weekend production with my adult daughter. She had only a vague recollection that I had once told her I was in the Army and spent 352 days in Vietnam as a 22 year old recent college grad. Aside from that, I had never talked too much about my time in the middle of the war. After the show, following an audience discussion with cast and crew, we started talking about the impact that the show had for both of us. After more than 40 years, I found myself telling her things I had never discussed with anyone. Discussion and consideration of what it really means to commit young men and women to battle can only be a good thing. This show will provoke that kind of discussion.”
Today, we thank you for you interest in supporting this production. As a performance attendee or sponsor, you are joining with others who care so much about Veterans and the impact of war on them and their loved ones. Although the play is written about a family’s experience during the Vietnam era, the play transcends the era and can be understood for any veteran or family that has experienced their loved one going to war. With your support, we will bring a better understanding of that to our community.
Tom Bennett Jan Hatchard Bill Stafursky
Associate Executive Director Manager, Donor Relations Veterans Services
Martha’s Vineyard Community Services’ mission is to enhance the lives of those it serves by meeting the comprehensive needs of individuals, families, and the community through a partnership of programs that provides accessible education and health and human services of the highest quality.