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This week, four U.S. veterans are sharing their experiences of war and service in “The Veterans Project,” a performance initiative designed by Erika Hughes, assistant professor in the School of Film, Dance and Theatre, and Boyd Branch, visiting assistant professor in the School of Film, Dance and Theatre.
Hughes originally came up with the idea for “The Veterans Project” when her younger brother returned from Iraq after being stationed there in 2004. After interacting with her brother, she became particularly interested in the way war and wartime atrocities are remembered through theater, film and other cultural expressions.
“I wanted to create a space for veterans to share their stories so the community could hear and so the vets themselves would have a chance to connect with each other,” said Hughes.
So far, “The Veterans Project” has seen four previous incarnations, with a rotating cast of participants.
This time, after roughly a month of rehearsals, four veterans – Captain Steve Borden, Marcus Denetdale, Karen Pittenger and Joanna Sweatt – are bringing their conversation to the Lyceum Theatre on ASU’s Tempe campus. Notably, all veterans in this production are faculty or staff at Arizona State University; Borden is the director of the Pat Tillman Center.
Borden, Denetdale, Pittenger and Sweatt will sit in a semi-circle alongside a television that will be playing video footage that they can interact with live.
Hughes calls the performance a “curated conversation among the vets.” Branch, who has a background in media design, had the idea of using video as a way to drive this conversation.
For this particular iteration of the project, the two co-creators are joined by a production team of graduate students enrolled in an ethnotheater course this semester.
There’s no censorship, specifically in terms of politics, Hughes cautions, but the group has had ample time to work with one another and become familiar with the topics that may arise over the course of the evening.
Be a part of the conversation at 7:30 p.m., Nov. 13 at the Lyceum Theatre, 901 S. Forest Mall, on ASU’s Tempe campus. The event is free and open to the public.
“The Veterans Project” is supported by ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, the Pat Tillman Veterans Center, the Office of Veteran Academic Engagement and the School of Film, Dance and Theatre.