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Veterans Day: GIs and the Arts

Today is Veterans Day, a day that’s always been special to me because my father was not only a U.S. military veteran; he was born on Veterans Day,  which was originally called Armistice Day, a day set aside to celebrate the end of World War I; the armistice was signed on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. Congress named it Veterans Day in 1954, intended to honor all U.S. military veterans.

There is a strong connection between theater and the military, as actor and U.S. Marine veteran Adam Driver pointed out last year (and I put in my Veterans Day post last year):
“The birth of theater was from a military environment. The Greeks — Aeschylus, Euripides, all these elected generals…wrote plays for a culture that was at war.”

It’s why the theater artist and Greek scholar Bryan Doerries began performing the Greek tragedies for modern military audiences, out of which he created a theater company, now called The Theater of War, and a book with the same title.

Also see terrific series on Howlround by Stephan Wolfert, Shakespeare Through The Lens of a Military Veteran

Non-profit groups that help veterans pursue  the arts either as a vocation or an avocation, for healing and for sustenance:

Arts in the Armed Forces,

United States Veterans’ Artists Alliance (USVAA)

Veteran Artist Program (VAP)

Society of Artistic Veterans (SocArtVets)

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Lin-Manuel Miranda Pleas for Puerto Rico

By Lin-Manuel Miranda

Puerto Rico—my family’s island, America’s island—is in desperate need of supplies and resources.
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Hillary Clinton Says Broadway Helped Her Recover

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In the months after her defeat by Donald Trump in the race for President, Hillary Clinton was so devastated, she writes in her new memoir, “What Happened,” that she had trouble finding relief. Good friends suggested Xanax and recommended their therapists.  Instead, she writes:

“I went to Broadway shows. There’s nothing like a play to make you forget your troubles for a few hours. In my experience, even a mediocre play can transport you. And show tunes are the best soundtrack for tough times. You think you’re sad? Let’s hear what Fantine from Les Misérables has to say about that! By far my favorite New York City performance was way off Broadway: Charlotte’s dance recital.” Charlotte is her two-year-old granddaughter.

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How Can Theater Help In A Time Of Crisis?

“There is nothing more important than the arts in a time of crisis,” Judith Light says in the video below, asked at the annual Sardi’s luncheon at the American Theatre Critics Association.

Also answering directly — actors Kathleen Chalfant, Michael Cerveris, Marlee Matlin, lyricist Sheldon Harnick, and playwright Doug Wright. Director Bartlett Sher answers without being asked the question.