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Veterans Initiative in the Arts

By The Editor, 2015-11-15

VETERANS DAY. The Chance proved once again that theatre touches communities with far more than entertainment. Over the space of several weeks these 7 veterans, pictured above, met to share their stories and gradually weave them into a presentation for a public audience. Most of them served in Vietnam; Matt, second from the right, in Afghanistan. Their stories cut from one to another and slowly built into a whole. 

Vets are generally reticent to speak about their time in action. And when these spoke they mostly shared the real life situations that the theatre of war creates; the funny moments (like Alan, 3rd from left, who kept falling off his submarine!), the near misses, the impact on their lives and families and moments of incredible bravery or horror. 

War leaves teriible marks. even scars, for a lifetime even though the time of service may have been only a year or two. The Talkback after the show revealed some of the most poignant moments. These men, all strangers to each other, formed an incredible bond. They movingly confessed this had been a healing experience and nervous though they were to speak in front of an audience, it was very, very therapeutic.

Alan, far left, said that over the past two weeks he had had NO nightmares! Think of this, after 40 years it took the healing outcome of this arts initiative for him to be free of nightmares. And Matt, still suffering PTSD, had tried to handle all the consequences of Afghanistan on his own, as his story emphasized. But he concluded the show by saying his has now learnt to face the future no longer on his own.

Artistic Director Oahn Nguyen pitched in a final note as he thanked the Vietnam vets for what they had done, because he was one of the babies saved from Saigon as the Americans withdrew!

There were many tears of thankfulness and love as this remarkable evening came to a close. 

See, theatre touches communuties, challenges complacency. and changes lives.

November 11, 2015. Michael Buss



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