October 26, 2012
War Stories Cast
(SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Oct. 26, 2012) Faculty, students and staff of SUNY Empire State College presented “War Stories,” a performance piece featuring the voices of men and women in the military, as well as those on the homefront, who have been profoundly touched by war at the New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center.
The performance concluded with a reading from student Sean Markham who wrote, “Nobody loves peace more than a soldier who has to fight for it.”
The “War Stories” performance began as a writing course: "War Stories: Reading and Writing About the Impact of War." The project is crafted by three of the college’s Northeast New York Region faculty: Elaine Handley, Claudia Hough and Cindy Bates, from texts supplied by members of the college community, and is directed by Bates.
"This project gives voice to a wide range of experiences and thoughts about war,” said Bates. “We believe that it is vital for all of us to share our stories about war and that this performance can encourage personal and communal healing. The performance has no political agenda but rather seeks to allow many voices to be heard -- some for the first time."
Following the performance, the college demonstrated its Military Transition Resource Center website, which is funded by a grant from the American Council on Education and the Walmart Foundation.
Linda Frank, the college’s director of the Office of Veteran and Military Education, Kelly Hermann, the director of the college’s Office of Collegewide Disabilities Services and Andrew Davis, director of the Saratoga County Veterans’ Services Agency, a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and a student at the college, discussed the website and related issues following the demonstration.
Saratoga County Veterans' Service Agency Director Andrew Davis
“Reintegration is not a government program, it is a community process and community includes colleges and universities,” said Davis. “Veterans now connect with each other on the Internet and use the Web to gather information. Empire State College’s website contains useful, practical information and is another good example of how the college supports veterans and the military.”
A primary goal of the course is to provide students, especially military veteran students, a safe place to read, discuss, reflect and write about war. From the conversations and writing assignments the course engendered, Handley and Hough found stories about war to be enormously complex, emotional and political, full of ambiguity and surprises.
Moved by what they had learned from their students, and from their reading of experts, they came to understand the vital role communal storytelling about war can play.
In order for warriors to reintegrate, they need to tell their stories, and the community needs to hear them and acknowledge the sacrifice those in the military have made on behalf of the community.
Warriors aren’t the only people affected by war; others who have experienced war directly or indirectly, and who have protested war, also have stories that need to be told and heard.
To encourage the wider college community to think about the many ways war affects people both personally and as a community, Hough and Handley teamed up with Bates, a colleague and theater director, to create a performance and provide an outlet for students, faculty and staff to tell their stories.
For the past year, they have been working to create a live dramatic performance based on a diverse selection of writing about war they solicited from the college's students, staff and faculty.
The script consists of many voices of men and women who have been to war, as well as from those on the homefront. The performance has no political agenda, but invites the audience to come to a deeper understanding of how all are affected by war.
Media contact: David Henahan, director of communications
SUNY Empire State College
518-587-2100, ext. 2918
David M. Henahan, Director of Communications 518-587-2100, ext. 2918 David.Henahan@esc.edu
518-321-7038(after 5 p.m. and weekends)