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New Oral History Project to Collect Stories of Veterans


Judith Royer, C.S.J., professor of theatre, knows all about the
transformative power of storytelling. For her sabbatical project last
semester, she worked on an oral history project that told the stories of
five religious sisters in her community who are from different generations.
The project was such a success that Royer's new project will tell the
stories of six California veterans from three generations. 

"The process of telling a story helps a person own their history," Royer
said. "When an artist takes someone's history and dramatizes it, it's like
taking the demon of your memories and transforming it into something
aesthetically beautiful." 

The project, "Soldier's Stories: 
Los Angeles Veterans  Bridging the War
Generation Gap," will pair six veterans with professional writers who will
help the veterans communicate their experience through the means of dramatic
narratives. The narratives will then be professionally produced and
performed in fall '09 in several locations in 
Los Angeles . The veterans will
be selected from a pool drawn from Los Angeles-based veterans including the
resident and outreach populations of the 
VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare
System
, and will be representative of World War II, the Korean and  Vietnam
wars
 and the recent conflicts in  Afghanistan  and  Iraq

"We must do all we can to share and preserve the stories of our California
veterans from the several generations of war in our times. Especially for
our younger veterans, the storytelling process becomes part of their
reintegration into life at home by providing them the opportunity to relate
their experience to each other and other generations of veterans as well as
civilians," Royer said.

"Soldiers' Stories" is funded by a grant from the California Council for the
Humanities , California Stories and a matching grant from  Loyola Marymount
University
. The project will include contributions from several LMU faculty
members, including Lawrence Tritle, professor of history, 
Ron Barrett ,
professor of psychology, Catharine Christof, adjunct faculty in theatre
arts, and Johnny Garofalo, production manager/technical director for the
Theatre Arts and Dance departments. LMU students will work on the project as
well.

"'Soldiers' Stories' is an expensive project because of the important
element, the public performances and production costs related to these. We
couldn't have done a project like this without the generous funding we have
received," Royer said.