Ajax in Iraq: a large idea on a small scale and in print.

The Ajax in Iraq postcards have arrived from the printers, and I'm relieved to see, in person, that the concept is working. When the first two of three cards are placed side by side, this is what you see:

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After receiving approval of the sketch from the highly creative and driven team at Flux Theatre Ensemble, I fell into the coloring process, using the same palette that was used for the postcard promoting Flux's February production, the wild and wonderful Dog Act.

The primary focus on this card is, again, the main character and, in particular, the eyes. Flux's Season Four slogan is "Don't Look Away," broken down this way on their site: "Our fourth season explores the cost of a society remaining always vigilant. In our see-something, say-something world, what happens when we're always on guard? What is our responsibility to those keeping watch? And what happens when our defenses are breached?"

In my view, this language takes an internalized look at a post-9/11 but present-"Patriot Act" world, focusing on the individual struggles of characters whose lives operate within black-and-white structures. For a static image, this puts the brunt of the heavy lifting on the emotional link between the subject and the viewer. The main character of Ajax in Iraq—certainly the most vulnerable character—is AJ, an American, female soldier currently deployed in Iraq. It was important to make her face the first and last stop for a viewer seeking the emotional message. I made use of shadowing to enhance the light that falls across her, and kept the area behind her free of distractions.

Secondary challenges included: making sure the graphics and lettering are obviously a part of the wall while maintaining legibility, keeping the various details clean and contained so that the message shines through, and leaving room beyond the bleed so that the final card, which will promote the final play of Flux's fourth season, is ensured a seamless beginning. At left, a view of the card midway through the coloring process, with the palette visible for access by the eye drop tool.

Below, the final card. Thanks goes to everyone at Flux Theatre Ensemble for their encouragement and trust as the project goes forward and to playwright Ellen McLaughlin for inspiration. Tickets for Ajax in Iraq, opening on June 4 and sure to be directed with earnest intelligence by August Shulenburg, are on sale via Flux's home page.

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