Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

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April 6, 2014

From battlefield to campus

'Voices of Student Veterans' begins 5-university tour at MSU

MOREHEAD — Gunshots. Mortars. Ambushes. The war zone can do anything but prepare a soldier to enter the college classroom.

University of Kentucky Department of Theatre students on Friday performed the play “Voices of Student Veterans,” a documentary dramatization that chronicles the sometimes long and tedious transition for student veterans from the battlefield to a college campus.

“It helps the civilians understand veterans’ experiences and it lets the veterans see that some civilians actually care about their pain,” said director Herman Ferrell III. “And it teaches everybody what is going on.”

The production was developed in 2010 as part of an interdisciplinary arts and creativity project, “From Combat to Kentucky,” put together by Doug Boyd, director of UK’s Nunn Center for Oral History.

In the play, five veterans interact with interviewers, who ask questions from the oral history project while changing from civilian clothes to battle dress uniforms. Lighting and sound effects set the stark scenes and give the audience a sense of tension to the subtle narratives.    

The performance was at Morehead State University’s Lucille Caudill Theater, with interviewers starting and ending their questions from audience seats.

According to Anthony Dotson, UK Veterans Resource Center coordinator, the theater students stayed true to the original recorded interviews, “telling it in a more remarkable way, not creative writing, but word for word, umm for umm, stutter for stutter directly from the video recordings that were recorded in the oral history program.”

Max Ammonds, MSU’s director of military initiatives said, “Veterans need to realize how well they perform academically is going to transfer into a real job like it will any other traditional student.” MSU has more than 300 student veterans.

MSU was the first stop for the documentary drama; it will presented at five state universities.

“I am so proud that it started here, at my old alma mater,” Dotson said. “I commissioned at ROTC right down in Button Auditorium and served with a lot of great Americans who got their commission right here at Morehead State.”

MARY ALFORD is a convergent media student at MSU and the editor of the Trail Blazer.

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