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Space: Louis Theater, Northwestern University

Faculty Mentor: Linda Roethke

War Boys

By Naomi Wallace

Scenography Independent Study

Fall 2022

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War Boys is a 1991 play by Naomi Wallace that takes place on the Texas-Mexico border. This version of the play takes place in the present day, and the characters are strongly based on the militant border group of Patriots for America.

War Boys is a play about violence born from isolation. All three men in the play are lost. They try in vain to connect with each other but their pleas fall on the deaf ears of the others who are too busy screaming their own pleas for understanding. David, Greg, and George are engulfed by their own ideas of how the world should be. They each come to the border because they think that the harm they are doing there will fulfill them in some way. Each man wants to feel whole and confident in himself in a way that they fail to.

Each man wears an armor of fragile masculinity he has crafted for himself. This armor is an ideology, a protection from his reality. This manifested for me differently in the portrayal of each actor's costume. George’s protective armor is in the layers he wears. He constantly is taking care of his sick brother so he is cognizant of the cold of the night and dresses himself warmly to feel safe. David’s protective armor is his wealth and the idea that his privilege puts him above others. He is dressed in expensive clothes but with his own false perception of a soldier layered on top with his cowboy hat, tactical vest, and blue lives matter patch. David uses his money and illusion of power to feel safe. Greg uses cultural signifiers as his armor. He wants to fit in somewhere to have a crowd to belong to and not be an outsider. He wears his Linkin Park band shirt and MAGA hat to announce his belonging to groups to feel safe.

Inevitably each man is compensating for a hollowness they feel. Society has failed them and they have come out broken so at the great expanse of the border they are trapped trying to make others feel empathy for them while they are so void of empathy themselves.


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Process Work

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