New theater production exposes dangers of PTSD, on and off the battlefield

The “Reason,” a play inspired by the real-life experiences of Air Force veteran Mark J. Williams, allows viewers to experience the everyday struggles of those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. The show, written by Boulder-based Ami Dayan, premiered at the Dairy Center for the Arts Sept. 18.

In the beginning of the play, the actors are hesitant to admit that anything is wrong with them. But through the teaching of “belly breaths,” a breathing process that helps to relax and deal with stress, they come to terms with the problems in their lives and admit they do need outside support. Through the teachings of Williams, the actors are able to confront their problems while connecting in a way they never thought possible.

Dayan, who has studied and worked in the U.S., Europe and Israel, has produced numerous plays in Colorado as well as four off-Broadway productions.

In “Reason,” each character has a different past and reason for why they are struggling with PTSD.

Mirroring real life events, Williams’ character in the play is trying to have the government approve his new study, a program he started after dealing with PTSD first-hand while serving in the Air Force. The study is overseen by De Wright, who dealt with mental-health training at the Pentagon and uses the program as a vehicle to advance her own career.

“So he made the link, became famous and then these numbers started coming in about the suicide rates, about PTSD and so on,” Dayan said. “So they started using these kind of works to help prevent it in advance, or give it as an immunity system boost and certainly as a treatment from returning home from the front.”

Williams, who fought during the Gulf War, failed for 13 seconds to protect his wingman while he went in for a kill, which resulted in the death of his partner. After this incident he retired and never flew again.

The other characters, such as Nick Lewis, Mari Di Fulvio, Rosa Mendosa and Andrew Read, further the plot as each of their individual stories cast more light on the plights of PTSD. Throughout the play, these characters show how it is possible to suffer from PTSD without having actually served in the military or seen combat.

Following the performance, a members of the case talked in an “Urgent Conversations” session. The real Mark Williams and Pierre Bouchard answered questions about the play and talked more about the issues that come along with PTSD. Bouchard is an assistant trainer at the Love and Trauma Center in Denver, a private psychotherapist and Naropa University meditation instructor.

The play, which will run at the Dairy Center for the Arts through Sept. 27, has three more show times. Two on Friday at 4:30 p.m. and 9 p.m., and a performance Saturday at 6 p.m. Tickets are $15, although there is a $2 discount for students and a 2-for-1 deal for veterans. For a full synopsis and more information on the production, visit the show’s website.

Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Annie Mehl at

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