UM Theater Project Shares Veterans’ Perspectives on Serving Overseas, Returning Home

April 16, 2015

MISSOULA — Theater-goers in Missoula will have an opportunity to learn what military life, demobilization and reintegration are like for Montana veterans thanks to a unique project developed by University of Montana theater classes and the UM VETS Office.

“Learning Through Our Troops: Monologues about Service and Reintegration” will feature audio recordings of veterans sharing their perspectives and talking about the experiences they faced when returning home from active duty. Audiences attending the School of Theatre & Dance production of “Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter” can hear these recordings before the show at listening stations in the lobby of the Performing Arts and Radio/Television Center. The recordings also will be posted online at http://www.umt.edu/umarts/theatredance/

“I was interested in hearing from many different veterans — men and women, young and older,” said UM theater Professor Jillian Campana, who spearheaded the project. “We wanted to collect a wide spectrum of experiences and individual perspectives on returning home after military service.” 

Students in Campana’s applied theater courses interviewed veterans individually about military life, demobilization and reintegration. The students recorded and transcribed the veterans’ answers, then crafted two- to three-minute monologues by pulling snippets from the longer interviews. Some of the monologues were recorded by the veterans, while the student actors recorded others. 

“Just know we’re struggling, but we’re human and appreciate a smile,” one veteran revealed. “I just don’t fit in; there is just no place for me in a lot of situations because the things that matter in this society don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things,” said another. 

All the veterans featured in the project are connected to UM in some way. Most are current students, while some are UM staff or family members of student veterans. Nearly 700 veterans are currently enrolled at UM. 

The School of Theater & Dance will present “Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter” Tuesday-Saturday, April 28-May 2, and May 5-9, in the PAR/TV Center. Performances are at 7:30 p.m., and tickets cost $10 to $16. To purchase tickets, go online to http://www.griztix.com or call the UMArts Box Office at 406-243-4581 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.  

For more information about “Learning Through Our Troops: Monologues about Service and Reintegration,” call Campana at 406-243-5846 or email jillian.campana@umontana.edu

Contact: Jillian Campana, professor, UM School of Theatre and Dance, 406-243-5846, jillian.campana@umontana.edu.