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By Jim Farber
The mental and physical struggles facing Iraq war veterans is a hot topic. And as the war drags on, and the numbers increase, it's likely to get even hotter, especially when some of those vets suffer from the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

"The Wolf," a new play by former Marine Sean Huze, which premiered March 23 at the ArtWorks Performance Space in Hollywood, confronts the subject of the Iraq war and PTSD with brutal honesty and a clarity of vision that can only come from a writer who has been there and wrestled with those demons.

It also marks the debut of a new, and potentially very important theater company -- VetStage Foundation -- an organization dedicated to using the craft of theater to help returning vets heal the wounds of war.

As a decorated combat soldier who took part in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Huze knows all too well of what he speaks.

In this, his third Iraq war-related drama, he takes on the issue of PTSD, which he is convinced is transforming combat-scarred vets into ticking time bombs destined to explode within the general populace of America. They are the wolves of his play -- professionally trained, combat-hardened, warrior-predators turned loose among the flock of everyday society.

Huze also plays the role of Joey Dallriva, a Marine who, after returning to the States, finds himself incarcerated in a military psychiatric ward for his role in a revenge-seeking Baghdad blood bath.

Another member of his therapy group is Kelly Pickett, played with a quirky combination of nonchalant ease and psycho violence by exciting young actress Cameron Goodman. In an attempt to escape her Mississippi trailer trash past, Goodman's character joined the Marines, only to end up the victim of a vicious gang rape at the hands of her fellow soldiers, for which she took slashing revenge. She and Dallriva discover they are kindred spirits.

Huze paints a vivid picture of the inadequacies of the system, personified by Lt. Commander Bell (the hospital's chief therapist), whose pathetic ineptitude is captured by Blake Robbins. He is a man who wants to help, but his lack of combat experience and by-the-book solutions only exacerbate the problem.

On the home front, Catherine Dallriva (Amy Moorman) grapples less than successfully with her own post-war trauma: one son killed, the other hospitalized and in disgrace. Her daughter, Theresa, (played intensely by Vanessa Martinez), however, is filled with anger and resentment for the havoc the war has wrought on her family.

Solace and hollow-sounding platitudes about the quality of faith, mercy and God's will are offered by their priest, Father Lawrence (Damien Leake). A Vietnam vet (in the play and in real life), Leake brings a level of believability to his performance that is compassionate and horrifying. Father Lawrence's demons, Dallriva discovers when he confronts the priest, are far from expiated.

"The Wolf" paints a powerful anti-war portrait of conflicted soldiers battling to make sense of their lives; parents suffering from the loss of their children; and a priest struggling to maintain some semblance of faith.

But what makes "The Wolf" and VetStage so noteworthy is the multiple levels at which the production works.

It's one thing to say a play such as "Hamlet" remains relevant to our time, but quite another to see a drama that is as current as the evening news. And to see that drama acted out (under the skilled direction of Rick Pagano) by actors who have experienced these horrors first-hand makes the experience that much more intense.

This is theater as theater was meant to be. It deserves to be supported.

Stage review

"The Wolf" plays at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 7 p.m. Sundays through May 5 (no performance April 8) at the ArtWorks Performance Space, 6569 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. Tickets are $25. Information: 323-960-5775


The Wolf Review -
a World Premiere Play by Sean Huze

 “The Wolf” by Actor/ Playwright Sean Huze makes its world premiere at the art/works Theatre, explores the question: Can a wolf ever live among the sheep?
"The Wolf" has it's world premiere at arts/work Theater in Los Angeles

The play opens on Father Lawrence (Damien Leake) standing at his altar, gathering strength through prayer, and through whiskey, to bury one of the Dallriva boys, yet another soldier killed in combat. Meanwhile, at Camp LaJune, Joey Dallriva (Sean Huze) is confined to a military psychiatric ward where his doctors try to determine if he is competent to face a court martial, stemming from atrocities he committed in Iraq. Joey gravitated to the unstable Kelly Pickett (Cameron Goodman), a female soldier who murdered the officer that raped her.
Recognizing each other are both damaged goods, and sick of the camp shrink (Blake Robbins) trying to fix something he can’t possibly understand, the two escape to Joey’s hometown, where he is determined to confront the man he blames for putting him on this path to becoming a wolf, a predator that can destroy and kill without remorse; namely Father Lawrence.

Once outside the controlled environment of the psych ward, Joey suffers from violent flashbacks and Kelly acts out on her every self-loathing, socio-pathic tendency. Despite the unwavering faith of his young sister Theresa (Vanessa Martinez), nor the assurances of redemption by Father Lawrence, Joe seems unable to stop his free fall into the damnation he thinks he deserves.
The play concluded with Randy Newman’s “Song for the Dead”, a very nice touch. Davis Campbell’s set design bravely makes the best use of a Black Box Space that I have seen in a long time. The lighting and sound design were used judiciously in concert to evoke character memories and other altered states.
The piece, directed by Rick Pagano, was well paced and the cast as a whole does a good job with this script that is dramatically heavy-handed at times. Huze’s play makes great use of each character to represent very real and human themes that are both Red and Blue.

Once a sheep has become a wolf, can he/she ever live among the sheep again? Huze’s play depicts Lawrence and Joe as two sides of the same coin: a soldier changed forever because of his experience with war.

Lawrence represent the man who knows there is redemption, and fights to believe that he is worthy of it everyday of his life since leaving the battle fields, whereas Joe represents the soldier that is permanently scarred believing his actions were unforgivable and there is no redemption, no fitting back in society after his tour in Iraq; no going back to being a sheep ever again. Each man must face his own demons, both internal and external, but reach very different outcomes.

Catherine Dallriva (Amy Moorman), the mother of the two soldiers, represents perhaps the most disturbing contradiction of all. She cries for and prays for and lights candles for her dead son, but has no compassion for the living son whose soul is morally wounded. Her pride at Joey’s enlistment has utterly turned to shame at what he has become. The play explores the question of responsibility. Is one responsible for what they become when taking part or bearing witness to an atrocity? If not, then who is?

"The Wolf" is presented by The VetStage Foundation in association with Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America.

--By Keisha7)

Here's what LA Times Readers are saying:

March 30, 2007
Dan Lauria
Los Angeles, CA

Iraq war veteran Sean Huze's The Wolf, is the first play to examine the atrocities of the Iraq war and how it affects those who serve. Wolf also examines the impact felt by our society when the "wolves" return to the flock. It hits home in a shocking and truthful way.

March 30, 2007
Don Broder Studio City, CA

Sean Huze has done it again. His new play The Wolf gives us an intimate look at the not-very-pretty changes brought by the Iraq war to our young men and women fighting it. He does so with a compassionate and humane touch as he invites the viewer to identify with the multiple sides to this awful story. We're left with the inescapable conclusion that this war touches us all, just as all of us are responsibile. This is a "must-see."

March 30, 2007
Judith Broder Studio City, CA

I've been working with veterans for the past two years, and this play blew me away! Sean Huze captured the extreme suffering that our service members experience AFTER they come home and he's done so with a script that captures the complexity and complicity of this situation.

March 30, 2007
Don Broder Studio City, CA

Sean Huze's new play The Wolf is a powerful, even shocking, look at the changes undergone by our fighting men and women in Iraq. It examines those changes and the responsibility borne by the rest of us for having sent them there. Huze's characters are all too human, inviting the viewer to examine himself while he admires the brilliant performances. Not to be missed!

THE WOLF ....engrossing drama on post-traumatic stress disorder, actor-playwright Sean Huze raises a provocative question: Can those “wolves” who do the killing for us in war ever be able to live peacefully among the flock they’re sworn to protect? U.S. Marine Joey (Huze), imprisoned in a military psychiatric ward in North Carolina for the murder of Iraqi civilians, escapes with Kelly (Cameron Goodman), who snapped in Iraq after her sexual assault by fellow Marines. Both understandably psychotic, they head for his Ohio hometown, where the increasingly enraged Joey hopes to settle a mysterious score with his trusted parish priest, Father Lawrence (Damien Leake), who drowns nightmares of his own Vietnam violence in alcohol and platitudes. Huze sheds light on compelling issues, from the sexually exploitive treatment by U.S. soldiers against their female compatriots, to the military’s dehumanization of “the enemy” that makes even civilians fair game.

The Vetstage Foundation/Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America at the ARTWORKS PERFORMANCE SPACE, 6569 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m. (no perf Sun., April 8); thru May 5. (323) 960-5775. (Martín Hernández)

(Vol. 12-No. 15-Week of April 9th, 2007)

"...very intense drama that spots a great supporting cast..."

"...straight forward, intense..."

" should not miss this play!"

Rich Borowy - Accessibly Live Off-Line


"Helping traumatized combat veterans work out their feelings through theatrical expression" and "as someone who has been there (Iraq), Huze laces his work with convincing anguish."

-F. Kathleen Foley (LA TIMES)

Editors please note the new date changes for THE WOLF by Sean Huze at ArtWorks (6569 Santa Monica Boulevard Hollyood, 90038). The official press opening has been changed to Saturday, March 24th at 8 PM.






Los Angeles, CA (February 11, 2007) – The world premiere of THE WOLF, by Los Angeles playwright/actor Sean Huze, (The Sand Storm, In The Valley of Elah), is presented by the new theatre company, The VetStage Foundation. Rick Pagano (Goose amid the revolt, My Italian Café, Even Assholes Go To Heaven and Hanging Alice) directs this timely drama. The six week limited engagement begins March 23rd 2007 .

THE WOLF, begins in a military psychiatric ward in North Carolina where Joey Dallriva and Kelly Pickett are locked up for their violent actions while deployed in Iraq. Joey and Kelly are wrestling with demons bigger than themselves. The two escape and as they seek redemption they get further and further from it. They end up in Joey’s hometown of Mantor, Ohio, just after his older brother Bobby’s funeral, who was killed while serving in Iraq. Joey returns to confront his family’s priest, Father Lawrence, a Vietnam Veteran who has been avoiding his own demons for years with dogma and alcohol. Joey and Kelly arrive to find their family and neighbors coping with the war, their losses and their shame however they can. Now they must decide if there is a place for wolves amongst the flock?

Rick Pagano directs the cast of Cameron Goodman (Nick Cannon presents: Wild and Out), Sean Huze (The Sand Storm, In The Valley of Elah), Damien Leake (Boston Legal), Vanessa Martinez (Lone Star, Limbo, Casa de los babys), Amy Moorman (North Of Providence, Madwoman of Chaillot, Gang Related and Adult Education) Navid Negahban (Law & Order, Shark and The Closer ), Rashaan Nall (The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman, Cuts and One on One) Karl Risinger (NYPD Blue, The Practice) Blake Robbins (OZ, The O.C., Firefly), Sarah Rosenberg (Foxfire, Shooting Nick, Cold Case), and Roberto Sanchez (2 Fast2Furious, Our Lady of 121st Street, Mating Dance of the Werewolf ). THE WOLF is produced by The VetStage Foundation, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and Anita J. Lee.

THE WOLF, deals with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder brought about by the experience of combat in Iraq. The VetStage Foundation is a non-profit theatre company founded by Huze to help combat veterans work through their combat experiences in a creative way. In writing The Sand Storm, LA Times (Recommended), The Washington Post (Editors Pick) and Backstage West (Critics Pick), Huze was able to take back his voice after fighting in Iraq. He started VetStage to offer the same opportunity to his fellow Veterans. VetStage Foundation offers workshops and classes to support our Veterans’ transition back into civilian life by writing, acting and working in live theatre in Los Angeles.

Rick Pagano (Director) Three-time Emmy nominee, Rick Pagano is proud to be directing the world premiere of THE WOLFIn L.A. he has directed his plays Goose Amid the Revolt, My Italian Cafe, Even Assholes go to Heaven, Ten Tricks, Eldon Corvet's Karaoke and Career Counseling Weekend Retreat, Hanging Alice; Robert Litz’s Mobile Hymn and Rope of Smoke; J.D. Johnston’s All Good Horses; & Eugene Ionesco’s Exercises de Conversation.

Mr. Pagano recently completed post-production for the feature film adaptation of 10 Tricks for Shoreline Entertainment; and he is currently prepping a feature film production of My Italian Café, which he will also direct.

Mr. Pagano has cast more that 60 features over a twenty-year career, including Hotel Rwanda, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Rudy, Drugstore Cowboy, Alien Resurrection, Point Break, Say Anything and recently, X Men 3, 88 Minutes, Stardust, Nobel Son, and What Love Is. He has also worked in television, casting such hit shows as 24, Picket Fences, and Chicago Hope. He has also cast over 100 productions for theater around the U.S. including the Mark Taper Forum, La Jolla Playhouse, Lincoln Center, and Broadway.
Cameron Goodman (Kelly Pickett) Cameron Goodman is blossoming into one of the most exciting young talents in Hollywood. The Texas beauty landed in Hollywood by way of Washington D.C. and is quickly making her mark as a versatile and sought-after actor. She will soon be seen in several TV and Film projects including the feature film, Rise starring Lucy Liu and Nick Lachey. Cameron’s recent guest starring roles include turns on Shark, CSI: NY, Cold Case, Sons and Daughters as well as a recurring role on the popular Disney series The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. Cameron is also well known to MTV audiences as a series regular on Nick Cannon’s improv show Wild n’ Out.

Sean Huze (Joey Dallriva) Sean Huze, originally from Baton Rouge, LA, served as a U.S. Marine from 2001 – 2005 in the infantry field with 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion. On February 6, 2003 he deployed as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. 2nd LAR saw action from Nasirya to Tikrit. Sean was awarded a Certificate of Commendation, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Meritorious Promotion, Presidential Unit Citation, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, & Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.

Upon returning from Iraq, he authored the critically acclaimed play, The Sand Storm, which ran in Washington, D.C. after two successful runs in Los Angeles, with a European debut in March 2007 in Germany. His second play Weasel made its debut in September 2005 at The Kennedy Center’s Page 2 Stage Festival. In 2006 he completed his first film project, Homecoming, which focuses on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. As an actor, Sean can be seen in Paul Haggis’ new film In the Valley of Elah, with Tommy Lee Jones, Charlize Theron, and Susan Sarandon.

Damien Leake (Father Lawrence) Mr. Leake (US Army Veteran) has performed as an actor/ singer/ dancer/ director/ musician/ composer/ musical director/ vocal arranger/ playwright/ stage fight choreographer and ventriloquist at various points in his 37-plus-year year career. His many feature film credits include: Apocalypse Now, Serpico, The Cotton Club, Sea of Love, Born on the Fourth of July, The Devil’s Own, and the Rick Pagano directed, 10 Tricks. Damien has also amassed dozens of credits on the small screen beginning with a starring role in the television movie, Medal of Honor Rag. He has also appeared on Law & Order, The Ghost Whisperer, Alias, Boston Legal and The West Wing.

Vanessa Martinez (Theresa Dallriva) The Texas native began her professional acting career in commercials while still in the eighth grade. She made her feature film debut in John Sayles’ Lone Star, playing Young Pilar. She went on to star in two other John Sayles films, Casa de los babys and Limbo, for which she was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award in the Best Supporting Actress category. The Wolf is Vanessa’s stage debut.

Amy Moorman (Catherine Dallriva) Amy Moorman recently moved to Los Angeles from NYC where she appeared in productions including North of Providence (Bleecker Street Theatre), Garbo’s Last Walk (New Dramatists), and Sugar and Spice (Vital Theatre Company). Favorite local theatre credits include Madwoman of Chaillot (Odyssey Theatre) and Inspecting Carol (Long Beach Theatre). Featur

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