The World of “Hearts and minds”

– ‘Hearts and minds’ is about building trust in a context of war and violence.

– ‘Hearts and minds’ is about US Army infantry soldiers implementing a new strategy in Iraq while building trust from the local population.

– ‘Hearts and minds’ is an experiential theatrical experience where participants take the role of US Army infantry soldiers during the war in Iraq in 2007. They implement a new strategy trying to build trust from the local population through different missions in a context of violence and distrust, while interacting with military officers and Iraqi people who will affect their actions and decisions.

The play takes place in Iraq between June 2007 and June 2008. It is a mixture between interior/built and exterior/natural, taking place between the different missions of the US army in a city northwest from Baghdad.

The main acts take place at the Barracks and the different missions throughout the city. It is a place with a dry environment, with desert-like colors and weather. The environment is open but feels contained due to its urban qualities and the context of war. Time is linear and it takes place over one year. There are temporary jumps between each act and each one of them could be represented through different seasons throughout the year.

Mood is created by an environment of distrust and fear. Participants/soldiers are aware of the danger surrounding them but also the fact that they are a part of these missions because they are ordered so. Decisions and free will is a constant theme in this piece so the environment, mood and music contribute to create moments of tension and discomfort.

The social context is divided in two groups: the soldiers and people from Iraq. Iraqis are portrayed as a foreign culture from the soldier’s perspective, with a constant feeling of distrust. They live in a small city in a context of war. US Army is very organized and should create a feeling of trust among each other, even though they have to follow orders without questioning the authority.

What changes in this experience depends on the decisions made by the participants and how their interactions with NPC evolve throughout the piece. Overall the story evolves from a feeling of discomfort, distrust and chaos into a feeling of more control an confidence as the different missions are accomplished. Since participation of the players/audience is so important, they will hopefully understand towards the end the importance and effect of their actions in this social and political context.

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