The Lucid Body Theatre company brought their production, “The Veterans Project: Leaving Theatre,” to New Paltz’s Parker Theatre on March 10. The performance was directed by Fay Simpson, former instructor at the Yale School of Drama and the New York University Tisch School of the Arts, and featured both veteran and civilian actors.
The moving performance addressed issues faced by veterans who have completed their service and are attempting to reintegrate into everyday society, based on research conducted with veterans by Simpson and her colleagues. Topics addressed included post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and social anxiety, alcoholism and drug use, difficulty beginning a family or a career, gaps in physical and mental health care, violence, brushes with law enforcement and suicidal impulses.
“We’re devoted to doing theatre of social change,” Simpson said. “That means we’re interested in using theatre as a vehicle for communication of social issues that are otherwise not really addressed. This ‘Veterans Theatre’ project is the most important piece I think I’ve ever been involved in.”
Following the initial performance, members of the audience were invited to speak about moments that stood out to them and to continue the conversation about how the events portrayed might have played out differently. During this dialogue the performers remained in character, and audience members had the unique opportunity to come on stage, question characters’ behavior, offer suggestions for better outcomes and even reenact scenes themselves.
“I came to this performance because I want to support the arts, but also because it’s important to me as an actor to listen to stories of people I might not otherwise get to know, like veterans,” said Nicholas Pollina ’16 (Theatre Arts).
“Leaving Theatre” was presented by the Office of the President, the Division of Enrollment Management, the Department of Theatre Arts and the Office of Veteran and Military Services.