Our Production Partner – Next Act Theatre

Our Production Partner

Our Production Partner

By David Cecsarini, Producing Artistic Director

During the planning process for 9 CIRCLES, we reached out to a unique, local arts organization called Feast of Crispian (FoC)*. Their mission is dedicated to working with veterans of military service and as such, has been an indispensable community partner, helping us understand circumstances and issues in Bill Cain’s play from a veteran’s perspective.

Two special preview conversations were held on February 11 and 25, at which the audience heard selected scenes from 9 CIRCLES and then participated in free-wheeling and insightful discussions. In addition to the many veterans in the audience, particular expertise was provided by Guy Temple, a former Air Force Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps lawyer, and Marine Mark Ard.

Nancy Smith-Watson and Casey Hoekstra read a scene from 9 CIRCLES. Photo by A.J. Magoon

The director of 9 CIRCLES, Michael Cotey, was in attendance and remarked, “Wow, this kind of detailed discussion, questioning and digging into the text and issues is just like the first days of rehearsal! It’s exciting to already be this far into the conversation with three weeks to go before we begin.”

We wish to thank all the veterans and FoC leaders James Tasse and Nancy Smith-Watson for giving us this valuable opportunity to begin our 9 CIRCLES journey.

*FoC takes it’s name from Shakespeare’s HENRY THE FIFTH, mentioned as the day that the King’s small army, “we few, we happy few, we band of brothers,” will face the much larger French forces at the Battle of Agincourt.


By Feast of Crispian

Feast of Crispian (FoC) is a Milwaukee-born theater-based organization that primarily supports veterans who are challenged by a range of military service related issues from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) to reintegration. Since 2013, FoC has been working inside the Zablocki VA Hospital offering 16 hour-long workshops in acting Shakespeare with the focus on creating a safe, supported space for the participants to fully explore and express a full range of emotions.

Feast of Crispian members perform JULIUS CAESAR at Next Act Theatre. Photo by Sara Stathas.

Military training is designed to suppress emotions in order to foster group cohesion and the ability to work through high stress situations. PTSD further complicates the normal experiencing and expression of human emotions creating poor relationships from domestic life to job expectations. Using the poetic, expressive language of Shakespeare’s plays that tell stories familiar to contemporary warriors, veterans are given a chance to reconnect to their feelings, their empathy, and to their imaginations which can help them see the possibility of a different outcome to their current challenges.

AND COMES SAFE HOME performance on Thursday September 29th, 2016 at the UWM Theater in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Photo by Kenny Yoo.

FoC holds events inside and outside the VA hospital, has weekly drop-in meetings and collaborates with many other arts and health organizations around Eastern Wisconsin, as well as teaching and presenting this life-saving work all over the United States. Next Act Theatre has been a friend and collaborator with FoC since 2015.

Go to www.feastofcrispian.org for more information.