The seed for OCCUPIED TERRITORIES began while I was directing an adaptation of Seneca’s TROJAN WOMEN in 2011. The women’s expressions of war bore a stark resonance with language I’d heard spoken for years by Vietnam Veterans. Particularly potent was Cassandra’s complicated relationship to her gods and Hecuba’s exquisite language at the end of the play about loss, the gods, and survivor’s guilt. Another detail struck to the quick: in TROJAN WOMEN, the king kills his daughter to get the wind to sail to war. He kills two more children for wind to sail his ships back home. Will children always be an auxiliary casualty of our wars?

Will children always be an auxiliary casualty of our wars?

The Process


In 2013 I set out to create a new theater work in order to explore the relationship between Seneca’s text and the contemporary soldier. The guiding tenets of the project included the following:

  • The piece would be kinetic; text and a need for physical momentum would go hand in hand.
  • It would wrestle with God and betrayal, belief and loss.
  • It would take a hard look at war as both horror and thrill, as an act that both creates us and destroys us. It would look as well at the uncomfortable human impulses that underpin atrocity.
  • It would shine a light on the grip of traumatic memory — within a soldier and passed on to the soldier’s children.
  • It would deal with the love that courses in battle. 
  • It would face what remains after war’s end: the stuff that roams forever within the complicated landscape of a human being.

Through many workshops and writing sessions, those tenets led to OCCUPIED TERRITORIES. I am a daughter of a Vietnam Combat Veteran. As I dug deeply and rigorously into my questions of Seneca’sTROJAN WOMEN, I found a story lurking at the root: a story about the jagged terrain of love between parents and children, a terrain made more jagged by war. Knowing from that moment the track OCCUPIED TERRITORIES needed to take, I placed the piece specifically within the Vietnam War and its aftermath. TROJAN WOMEN seeped into the background and informed the process throughout.


At the root of OCCUPIED TERRITORIES is love — within families and between soldiers. It unearths battles that forge undeniable union and battles that tear us apart. OCCUPIED TERRITORIES is a cry for us to dare to see each other and allow ourselves to be seen.

The Vietnam War is sweeping swiftly toward a distant past. Yet, so many of us carry this legacy in small or large ways. At the same time, new wars have taken the foreground and have begun new legacies at home and abroad. Though the wars change, the searing complexity of family, brotherhood, loss and resilience remain as potent today as they did 50 — or even 2,000 — years ago.


“Occupied Territories is not a political piece. Much more powerfully, it is a love story: within a family and between soldiers.”
— Audience Member