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In ‘War Virgin,’ a meditation on the female military experience

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The cast in Laura Westley's play, “War Virgin.”
The cast in Laura Westley's play, “War Virgin.”Laura Wesley/handout

As a 24-year-old being shipped off to war in 2003, Laura Westley found herself unprepared for what she describes as a discriminatory and sexually charged military culture.

Now, she's taken the lessons she learned to the stage.

Westley's play, "War Virgin," which makes a stop in Boston for a Saturday night performance at the Calderwood Pavilion's Wimberly Theatre, takes a humorous look at her time as a female cadet at West Point and, later, with the US military.

Laura Westley
Laura WestleyLaura Westley/handout

In creating the play, Westley says, she hoped to provide an honest and raw look at military life, albeit in a farcical way.


"Literature, movies, they all paint a very similar portrait of what the military is like," Westley says. "And I think a lot of these war movies, these war-hero narratives, that's only indicative of a very small percentage of people in the military."

Westley, a former Cambridge and Newton resident who now lives in Florida, wrote most of the script while living in the Boston area. Though the project began as "angry journaling," as she puts it, she eventually adapted it into a one-woman show.

Later, she was inspired to turn the show into a larger production — spending much of the brutal Boston winter of 2014-15 writing. The current iteration includes six actors, with Westley serving as producer and narrator.

In addition to Boston, the play is scheduled to be performed in six other cities, including St. Petersburg, Fla.; Asheville, N.C.; West Point, N.Y.; and Savannah, Ga.

Westley, 37, hopes the show can spark a dialogue about the military experience, particularly for women, and potentially prompt changes along the way.

"If there's a girl that's thinking about joining the military, I want her to be able to understand what she's getting into," says Westley. "I wish this show was available before I joined the military, because it would have saved me a lot of crazy lessons."


“War Virgin” book cover
“War Virgin” book coverLaura Westley

Visit bostontheatrescene.com for ticket information. The show begins at 8 p.m.

Dugan Arnett can be reached at dugan.arnett@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @duganarnett.