Our wars, their stories: HEC-TV’s ‘State of the Arts’ program puts unique theater project in spotlight

by | Aug 1, 2016

A new HEC-TV "State of the Arts" feature captures the development of “Telling St. Louis,” a collaboration spearheaded by UMSL and The Telling Project.
Telling STL

From the interviews with local military veterans last winter to the rehearsals on campus in the spring and the performances in June, a new HEC-TV feature captures the development of “Telling St. Louis,” a partnership of UMSL and The Telling Project. (Click on the screenshot to watch the HEC-TV feature.)

Combining the talents of University of Missouri–St. Louis student veterans, faculty and staff, and the broader community, the premiere of “Telling: St. Louis” in Grand Center this summer was met with laughter, tears and standing ovations.

At six free performances in June, UMSL’s own Jacqueline Thompson directed a volunteer cast composed of local military veterans – half of them UMSL students and staff – who shared their personal experiences on stage.

It all began with a collaboration this past winter between UMSL and The Telling Project, a national performing-arts nonprofit that employs theater to deepen society’s understanding of the military and veterans’ experience. As the unique project progressed, HEC-TV’s Julie Winkle tracked its development – and put together a feature story now available for viewing on HEC-TV’s website. Later this month it will also air as part of the network’s August edition of “State of the Arts.”

Just as the project’s original script interweaves each veteran’s story with others to form a compelling public production, Winkle’s piece brings together the individual voices of the cast members as well as other key project contributors along the way.

UMSL theater faculty member Matthew Kerns, who served as assistant director of “Telling: St. Louis,” and Jim Craig, chair of the Department of Military and Veterans Studies, appear in the piece. So does Max Rayneard, The Telling Project’s senior writer, who conducted the in-depth interviews with each participant on campus in January and then drafted the script.

“[Veterans] come back into society, and they’re treated like these fragile objects – or they’re treated like heroes,” Rayneard says in the segment. “And so there’s this kind of bipolar notion of veterans. They’re either completely screwed up or they’re absolute heroes. And having done this now for a while, I can tell you that no veteran that I’ve met fits either of those ends of the spectrum. There’s a whole lot of life in the middle that people just don’t understand.”

Click here to watch the HEC-TV feature.

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Evie Hemphill

Evie Hemphill

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