Reporting War: A View from the Stage
In a revealing interview broadcast Nov. 19 on New York public radio station WNYC, actors Laura Linney and Brian D'Arcy James talked with Leonard Lopate about how they came to understand the multiple stresses faced by journalists in conflict zones. And not all of those stresses come from simply witnessing traumatic events.
In Donald Margulies' drama "Time Stands Still," Linney and D'Arcy James play journalists and lovers, each damaged in different ways by their separate experiences covering the U.S.-led war in Iraq. Linney's character, Sarah, returns home physically wounded and psychologically numbed; D'Arcy James' character, Jamie, is recovering from an emotional breakdown in part induced by his inability to fully communicate what he had witnessed because of editors' perceptions that the audience for war stories had become disinterested.. The different ways in which the two characters react to the traumas they experience reshape their lives, their respective careers – and their relationship.
During the course of the 30-minute interview, Lopate pressed the actors to talk about the stress and guilt newsgathers feel when caught up in tragic events. D'Arcy James noted the Dart Center provided some useful insights to his understanding of his character about what impels a story-teller to enter a conflict zone and how vital it is to be able to share that knowledge with the wider world.
"I learned something there that was a really interesting key," he said, "which is that sometimes when people see things that are horrific and terrible and their job is to report that – and then that reportage does not happen because of editorial decisions or whatnot – the fact that it's not getting out there is sometimes more damaging, psychologically, than having consumed these horrific images."
The benefit performance, co-hosted by the Dart Center and More magazine, includes a special post-play conversation with ABC correspondent Bob Woodruff, who was wounded in Iraq, and his wife, Lee Woodruff, co-fournder of the Bob Woodruff Foundation. A portion of the proceeds will support the Dart Center's ongoing work.