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Untold Stories of War Veterans Told Through Oral History Project


On the Front Line pic 2 Loyola Marymount University students, faculty and staff connected with the experiences of U.S. military veterans during a performance of the play “On the Front Line: Three Generations of Soldiers' Voices” on Thursday, Oct. 29 in Murphy Recital Hall.

“It’s vital for the community to hear the voices of the soldiers, the human beings, who have put their lives on the line for us,” said Doris Baizley, a Los Angeles playwright who worked on the project. “People want to tell these stories and, more so, people want to hear them.”

Eleven veterans who served from World War II through the Iraq War were each paired with a professional writer. The writers transformed the conversations into a monologue or a scene. Blaizey said that the experience helped everyone involved build a deeper sense of community and understanding about how deeply war affects individuals.

“These are real stories of real people. A friendship truly developed between the audience, the actors, the writers, the veterans, and even the veteran’s families and the caregivers at the veteran’s hospitals,” Blaizey said. “This play is speaking to its audience, and people are really hearing what is being said.”  
On the Front Line pic 1
The performance was followed by a discussion with a team of humanities experts which included Lawrence Tritle, professor of history; Ron K. Barrett, professor of psychology; Marsha Oseas, VA Medical Center volunteer trainer; and the veterans whose stories were told.

“The process of telling a story helps a person own their history … Especially for our younger veterans, that 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,” said Judith Royer, C.S.J., professor of theater and director of the play.

“On the Front Line” is funded by a California Stories grant from the California Council for the Humanities and a matching grant from Loyola Marymount University. The project also included contributions from LMU faculty members Linda Bannister, professor of English; Catharine Christof, adjunct faculty in theatre arts; Johnny Garofalo, production manager/technical director for the Theatre Arts and Dance departments; and several LMU students.

The next performance of “On the Front Line” will be held at The Actors’ Gang Theater in Culver City on Nov. 11 at 8 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public. For more information and reservations, please call 310-670-0362 or email jroyer@earthlink.net

"On the Front Line” was among several events in the ninth annual Bellarmine Forum, a weeklong series of lectures, presentations and performances that examine questions about human existence. This year’s theme was “Vulnerability: Windows to the Human Condition.”

Posted Nov. 9, 2009