On “Hearts and Minds”
“Hearts & Minds takes place in Iraq in a small city west of Baghdad in 2007. The city is based on the town Saab Al Bour, 18 miles Northwest of Baghdad. With a population of roughly 60,000, Saab Al Bour is much smaller than Baghdad, but still presents a microcosm of the problems cropping up around Iraq at the time.” (Synopsis of Hearts & Minds)
The space is both interior and exterior, also a mixture of both because of the ruins. It is unbuilt, and the nature is more prominent because it is all ruins. The setting feels unorganized, vulnerable, natural and exposed to danger. I can see a lot of open fields in the setting, desert kind of climate. The interior should be narrow and really tight to put more stress on the audience.
The time is marked from one mission to another but also during the missions it is in real time. It is linear time of a life of a US soldier.The time is staccato as stress levels rise up.
I can see a lot of wind and a lot of sun. I can see a lot of dust. The environment is alive because it is chaotic, it is always moving. The seasonal feel is summer but only because it is popular like that among media images. It is not abundant nor lush. The mood is serious and anxious. But also the mood is theatrical in a way because it is patriotic. There is a lot of irony because it is sunny but the subject is dark. It is restrained in a way but can become violent any moment. The mood is created by the Iraq’i people by showing how scared they are. By projections of really theatrical news being broadcasted you can feel the mood and the irony of the situation.
The social world is based on the distribution of the roles and it is based on military distribution of the power. Also it is based on nations: soldiers of US and the Iraqi people. The interactions mostly depend on the decisions of the US soldiers. But there is a lot of tension and the sense of power is too literal and is based on gun power or numbers of people. The language around the soldiers is Arabic but the soldiers speak english. The silences of the play are when the Iraqi locals make eye contacts with the soldiers and are afraid of the soldiers and show dislike towards them.
“Participants will face the same questions that soldiers face every day while they are deployed:” How do I live in this space where the people I try to help may want to hurt me and the people I help I may hurt?” ..” (The treatment).
The play itself is ironic because it is not portraying the facts or a general view of the war. It is actually portraying the point of view which the government wanted the soldiers to see through.
The most intriguing part of the play is that the changes are strongly based on the decisions made by the soldiers. The play can change either way, it depends on the soldiers. The first image portrays the scene where the soldiers are being deployed into a very alien environment and believe that they are helping the people there. The last scene is when the soldiers are back home and in a safe environment and talk about their experiences. (It is a good way to actually illustrate post traumatic disorder). The ironic part is that the soldiers have the luxury to have the post traumatic disorder in this case while the locals (if they are alive) are still there, probably experiencing the same situations with different US soldiers. The striking image of the play would depend on each player. Probably it would be the first time they actually fail to bring “peace” and have to hurt the people that they are trying to “help”. The play changes from commercial and romanticized version of war into more violent and more realistic one. In the end, the world of the play is even more disturbed and ruined.
The play expects the audience to experience the hardships of US soldiers in the surge. But as a designer I would expect the audience to experience the bigger picture and the conflicting points of views of the Iraqi people and US soldiers about the whole surge situation. I would want the audience realize how strongly both sides are actually seeing each other as enemies.
The characters are two opposing sides of the war conflict. The US soldiers and the Iraqi locals. The Iraqi people in this play are put into out of context characters without questioning their backgrounds or their experiences in their country even before the US soldiers arrived. They are portrayed as if they shouldn’t be fearing the soldiers, they are portrayed as people who need help. And the soldiers are the real people who are sacrificing their lives to bring peace to Iraq.
The Concept Sentences:
Hearts & Minds is about war environment where both sides view each other as enemies.
Hearts & Minds is about the war environment where both sides are portraying the opposing sides as non-human and in need of being corrected.
Hearts & Minds is about the conflicts between the US soldiers and Iraqi locals. Both sides view each other as enemies and cannot relate to each other as human beings anymore. The audience as US soldiers have to deal with the fact that the humanity bridge between both sides might have collapsed.
The Visual Inspiration:
The IR green camera feed projections during night missions.
Put the audience in really tight and narrow positions like in the above photo.