Milwaukee veterans use acting as a way to deal with PTSD

MILWAUKEE - If you go to the play "Othello" in downtown Milwaukee over the weekend you'll be watching an entire cast that fought for our country.

Around five years ago, a local organization called Feast of Crispian was founded to use acting techniques as a way for veterans dealing with trauma to express emotions in a positive way.

The man who landed the lead role of took a leap of faith to try out. Mustafa Beyah admits, he never fathomed he'd be on center stage.

"Feast of Crispian came out and asked if anyone was interested, I said ‘no’, I said, ‘Well I don't have anything to do this weekend’, so I took a chance and I've been hooked ever since," Beyah said.

Beyah is a retired air force veteran who spent 18 years in the service. One deployment sticks with him to this day.
 
“We had a natural disaster happen in the Philippines and experienced some things that changed my life," he said.

When Beyah came home he was considered 100 percent disabled from the traumatic experience.

"PTSD is something you don't get over, you just get better," he said.   

Bill Watson is the "Othello" play director and founder of Feast of Crispian, a non-profit organization that helps veterans dealing with trauma.

"Those emotions don't go anywhere, we just stuff them,” said Watson. “It's not like we can get over them, but we have this opportunity in acting to express those feelings and get in contact with those feelings."

For the past two months, Watson and Beyah have been preparing for the big shows with a cast of eleven veterans. Throughout the journey, Beyah found much more than an avenue to deal with post-traumatic stress.

"I mean, it's just fun for me now," Beyah said.

He plans to go to DePaul University to take up acting as a career.

"I got the bug and I don't want to stop," said Beyah.

"Othello" debuts Thursday night at the Next Act Theatre on south water street. The cast will perform several shows over the next few days. The best part is it's free to attendees.
 

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