‘I didn’t know you could have emotions out loud’

Laura Collins-Hughes writes: Stephan Wolfert was drunk when he hopped off an Amtrak train somewhere in Montana, toting a rucksack of clothes and a cooler stocked with ice, peanut butter, bread and Miller High Life — bottles, not cans. It was 1991, he was 24, and he had recently seen his best friend fatally wounded in a military training exercise.

His mind in need of a salve, he went to a play: “Richard III,” the story of a king who was also a soldier. In Shakespeare’s words, he heard an echo of his own experience, and though he had been raised to believe that being a tough guy was the only way to be a man, something cracked open inside him.

“I was sobbing,” Mr. Wolfert, now 50 and an actor, said recently over coffee in Chelsea. “I didn’t know you could have emotions out loud.”

That road-to-Damascus moment — not coming to Jesus, but coming to Shakespeare — is part of the story that Mr. Wolfert tells in his solo show, “Cry Havoc!,” which starts performances Wednesday, March 15, at the New Ohio Theater. Taking its title from Mark Antony’s speech over the slain Caesar in “Julius Caesar,” it intercuts Mr. Wolfert’s own memories with text borrowed from Shakespeare. Decoupling those lines from their plays, Mr. Wolfert uses them to explore strength and duty, bravery and trauma, examining what it is to be in the military and what it is to carry that experience back into civilian life. [Continue reading…]

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