Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014
I thought that little quote in this article was particularly apt. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been different for servicemen and women in a lot of ways, most notably that they are what is considered 360/24/7 – combat can occur at any time, any place around you, even when you think you are safe. Coupled with the extreme threat from IED’s and the disconnect between virtually seeing your family and being totally cut-off, it’s no wonder that vets are coming back with some demons. So if this kind of warfare is so different, maybe we need a different kind of art to reflect it?
That’s the idea behind BASETRACK Live, a multimedia/multi disciplinary show currently running at Julliard. It’s designed by a vet who fought in Fallujah and Ramadi, and it’s a blend of hip hop, art, theater, visual arts, and video. We’ve talked in the last few weeks about the function of art, in the sense of asking ‘What can art do for us, as a society?’ This is one of the things that the arts can do best: reflect the human experience in a way that makes sense of it. It’s not about healing, although healing is hopefully a byproduct. It’s about witnessing, and refraction, and ensuring that people (like vets) no longer feel so alone.
I wrote a play called Fallujah as my senior thesis. Long story short, it’s about the combat experience of veterans and working on it changed my life. It’s seen a few productions, and a few awards, and even a production at the Kennedy Center, but this best thing about it? The thing that confirmed to me that my voice as a theater artist was perhaps the best thing I had to offer to the world? It was when audience members would come up to me after the show and say ‘I didn’t want to watch that, because it was too close to my experience, but I made myself watch. So thank you.’ I believe that’s why we do what we do: to make these moments more, and better, and louder.