The chairs in the American Legion Hall in Edgartown are arranged around the green platform stage. No two chairs are in front of another and each is about three feet from the stage. The purpose of the arrangement is to provide an immersive experience. Through her play Occupied Territories, writer and director Mollye Maxner attempts to provide audiences with a lot more than entertainment.

Occupied Territories is the story of a daughter trying to grapple with her father’s past as a soldier in Viet Nam. The play is told in two time frames, during the war and many decades later during the father’s funeral.

Ms. Maxner wrote the play based on her own story with her father, Steven Maxner, who has lived on the Vineyard since 1990. He served as a medic in Viet Nam from 1969-1970.

The play premiered last summer in Washington DC and was nominated for six Helen Hayes awards; it won first place for the Outstanding Choreography award. Earlier this week the Martha’s Vineyard Community Services Veterans Outreach Program in collaboration with the Theater Alliance of Washington D.C. presented Ms. Maxner’s play to an audience of veterans at the American Legion Hall in Edgartown. This weekend the play opens to the general public.

During a conversation between rehearsals, Ms. Maxner said that people typically leave the play feeling as if they were right alongside the soldiers.

“Sometimes people say that they feel like their cells have been changed because of the vibrations of the soldiers’ boots,” she said. “Without ever being able to know what it’s like, they say they have a better glimpse of what it may have been like.”

Ms. Maxner was born after her father returned home from Viet Nam; her older sister was born during his tour of duty. Ms. Maxner still remembers how her father suffered from PTSD, even though for many years there was no term for this condition.

In the play, the daughter, Judy, feels anger towards her father who also suffers from PTSD.

“The crux of the story is the daughter finally being able to see what her dad went through,” Ms. Maxner said.

She originally was going to write a play about women in the Trojan War, but with the encouragement of her friend and co-writer Nancy Bannon, she realized she needed to write about the relationships between Vietnam veterans and their families.

“She just kept asking a lot of difficult questions,” she said of Ms. Bannon. “Which made me realize that I was ignoring the story I really had to tell, which is a story about daughters and families of veterans.”

Ms. Maxner said she remembers as a child having to be careful around her father, to not make loud noises, and that fireworks and helicopters were particularly difficult for him to hear.

“He didn’t know for years what was going on,” she said.

Ms. Maxner said that when her father saw Occupied Territories he experienced a similar discomfort.

“He was very moved by it because it brought back the fear he experienced in Viet Nam. One of the things he said after was that he was so scared, and seeing the play brought back that fear.”

After each performance, Ms. Maxner invites the audience to share comments and questions with the cast. She shared that one woman sobbed as she told her story of giving birth while her husband was stationed in Viet Nam. Another veteran wrote Ms. Maxner that after leaving the theatre, he opened up to his daughter for the first time about his experiences.

“Part of what we’re hoping for with the piece is that it opens the gateway for conversation about war,” Ms. Maxner said. “The difference between being a soldier and a civilian, and the gap between those two experiences.”

The remaining showtimes for Occupied Territories are Friday, August 5 at 8 p.m. and Saturday, August 6 at 2 and 8 p.m. All shows are at the American Legion Post 186, 176 Katama Road, Edgartown. Tickets are $35. Visit or call 508-693-7900.