"Children of War," a play by Ping Chong based on the stories of five area immigrants who have experienced the horrors of war in their countries, opens tonight and runs through Dec. 15 at George Mason University's Theatre of the First Amendment.

The children, who range from 12 to 18, are from Afghanistan, Somalia, Kurdistan, Sierra Leone and El Salvador. They live in the Washington area.

The work is part of Chong's "Undesirable Elements" series, which explores the impact of history, culture and ethnicity on immigrants. A New Yorker, Chong is an award-winning director, choreographer and video and installation artist who has created more than 50 major works for the stage.

"World events have made the subject of 'Children of War' more timely and urgent than ever before," Chong said in a statement. "In the course of my ongoing work creating theater based on the oral histories of new Americans, I have been to artistic and personal places I never expected to go. It has been a tremendous honor to take this most recent journey with these courageous young people."

Chong collaborated with the Theatre of the First Amendment and the Center for Multicultural Human Services, a Falls Church-based nonprofit agency providing comprehensive mental health and related services in 34 languages. A child trauma therapist from the center joins the participants on stage as they describe for the audience the wounds created by the conflicts.

"Through this production, we are exploring the use of theater and narrative as a means of healing," Dennis Hunt, the center's executive director, said in a statement.

"The children who tell their stories are our neighbors and part of the fabric of our community. We hope that what we have learned through this production will be adapted and applied to the many thousands of young war victims who have sought refuge in the U.S. but whose spirits remain bruised and who carry emotional and physical scars that those around them often cannot see."

Proceeds from the production will benefit the center's efforts.

Performances will be at TheaterSpace at George Mason's Center for the Arts. For more information, call 301-294-4690. To purchase individual tickets, call 703-218-6500 or log onto www.tickets.com.