America has been at war for more than 10 years, but with fewer than 1 percent of the population serving in the military, veterans are largely unseen and unheard in today’s society.
Telling: Iowa City hopes to change that. This unique theatrical production will bring men and women to the stage–including six University of Iowa student veterans and other Iowa veterans from the Marine Corps, Army, Navy, and Air Force–to share their experiences working in field hospitals in Vietnam, flying through the oil-filled skies of Desert Storm or otherwise serving in Afghanistan, North Carolina, and at the Pentagon.
Working Group Theatre, the UI Student Veterans Association, and The Telling Project are partnering to bring Telling: Iowa City to the local community.
Three free performances of Telling: Iowa City will be held on the UI campus, thanks to support from the UI Department of Theatre Arts. Those performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday Nov. 8, Wednesday Nov. 9, and Thursday, Nov. 10, in the UI Theatre Building in Theatre B.
The performances last approximately 90 minutes, and there is no intermission. The location is wheelchair accessible. Though admission is free, reservations are recommended. For reservations, more information, or special accommodations to attend these performances, call 319-594-9051 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Telling: Iowa City will also be presented at Riverside Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Friday Dec. 2 and Saturday Dec. 3, and at 2 p.m. Sunday Dec. 4. Admission to these performances is $15 for the general public and $12 for student, seniors, and veterans. For reservations, call the Riverside Box Office at 319-338-7672.
The nine Iowa veterans who share the stage in Telling: Iowa City have been involved in the creation of the show from start to finish. In August, each of them sat down with writers Jonathan Wei and Jennifer Fawcett and taped a two-hour-long interview describing their experiences in the military, from enlistment, to basic training, deployment and their return to civilian life.
Wei and Fawcett then transcribed the interviews and wove the stories into the script. In September, the veterans began weekly performance training classes with Fawcett and her Working Group Theatre co-founder, Martin Andrews.
“In the following weeks, a group of nine strangers from different generations and backgrounds became a cohesive group who could stand on stage together and support each other through the telling of very personal stories, stories that for some had never been told before,” Fawcett says.
This month, the cast was presented with the script and began the rehearsal process with Andrews and Fawcett. Throughout rehearsals, each cast member has worked individually with the writers to help craft his or her story, patiently explaining the many details of military life and lingo to their civilian collaborators.
Now they’re ready to take the stage, Fawcett says, to tell their stories.
UI student and veteran Debra Shattuck says, “We joined the military to get a job… and ended up finding out what a precious gift freedom is and the sacrifice it takes to ensure that freedom endures.”
Performances of Telling: Iowa City are sponsored by grants from the following: Humanities Iowa/The National Endowment for the Humanities; the American Legion of Iowa Foundation; and Rockwell Collins. The UI Center for Human Rights in International Programs, the UI School of Social Work, UI School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and UI Department of History, all in CLAS, and UI Student Disability Services are providing additional support.
Fawcett and Shattuck will also be guests on the UI International Programs’ WorldCanvass television and radio program with the theme “Being the Other” from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday Nov. 11, in the Senate Chamber of Old Capitol Museum. They will talk about Telling: Iowa City and about Shattuck’s personal story as a member of the military. For more information, visit http://accents.international.uiowa.edu/worldcanvass/.