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The U.S. military is nothing if not innovative when it comes to waging war. Its Human Terrain System is a program that embeds social scientists with combat units in order to help the unit better understand the local population's cultural and social systems. Mabry Hoffman is a member of an HTS unit, and she's doing her job when she befriends an Iraqi in the middle of a war zone. But when her friend needs Mabry's help, it thrusts the civilian-soldier into an ethical quandary: If she helps the friend, is she betraying the unit? And worse, even if Mabry believes she's doing the right thing, does the U.S. Army -- which coined the phrase "collateral damage" in reference to civilian casualties -- see the situation the same way? Mustard Seed Theatre opens its new season with Jennifer Blackmer's drama The Human Terrain, which explores human relations under immense pressures. Performances take place at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday (August 29 through September 14) at the Fontbonne University Fine Arts Theatre (6800 Wydown Boulevard; 314-719-8060 or www.mustardseedtheatre.com). Tickets are $25 to $30.