What Theatres Can Do On Veterans Day (and every day)

by Laurie Baskin

in Blue Star Theatres

Post image for What Theatres Can Do On Veterans Day (and every day)

(Photo of Everett Cox at the 2015 TCG National Conference by Roger Mastronianni.)

Earlier this year, I was introduced to a Vietnam veteran who works with an organization called Lucid Body which offers a physical training method for the actor, and its Lucid Body Veteran Theatre Project. Everett Cox attended the 2015 TCG National Conference in Cleveland and spoke on a panel about Theatre Techniques for Veterans with Alex Mallory, director; KJ Sanchez, Founder/CEO, American Records; Stephan Wolfert, actor, writer, teacher; and Paula Vogel, playwright. You can find a video of that session here.

Everett wrote to me after the Conference and said that “being on the panel is already an important part of my becoming a vet. It is an on-going process and, this time, a big step. I am deeply grateful.” He went on to say that he “was delighted to see so many young people at the Conference. It would be great to have them learn more about the military and war experience. The less people have firsthand knowledge the more likely we will continue going to war.”

Everett asked me to pass along some suggestions for TCG Member Theatres and Blue Star Theatres for Veterans Day and the week around it, and I’m honored to pass along his thoughts.

EVERETT COX:

  • “Invite vets to read poetry and other works before each performance.
  • Before a performance, remind the audience of Veterans Day.
  • I suggest going even further and this is where I would like each of you to consider what I suggest and respond to it.

On Veterans Day, vets are often asked to stand and be recognized. This is a new thing for me. The first time, almost 40 years after I came home from Vietnam, I wept. I am always uncomfortable. Sometimes I stand. Sometimes I don’t.

Being asked to stand and recognized is as strange (to say the least) as hearing ”Thank you for your service.” or “Welcome home.” But I am suggesting Blue Star Theatres experiment with it.

If vets are asked to stand, give a couple of minutes for those around the vet to say something. Make it more intimate and personal–handshakes, something more personal. Talk about the awkwardness of “thank you for your service” and “welcome home.” These are heard more and more as trite clichés and sting painfully. Don’t reinforce it.

Instead, ask what branch of the service they served in. When and where did they serve? What was their job? Then they can be thanked for their service.

Active duty military and their families shoulder the costs and consequences of war. There is no coming home from war if those costs and consequences are not then transferred from veterans to civilians.

The Blue Star Theatres program is wonderful. Can it have more meaning than a discounted or free ticket?”

I hope you will consider Everett’s suggestions.


laurie_baskin_2Laurie Baskindirector of research, policy & collective action, joined TCG in 1997 as executive assistant to the executive director. In 1999, she was named director of government and education programs and in 2013 was named director of the newly formed department of Research, Policy and Collective Action. Ms. Baskin serves as TCG’s liaison to the Performing Arts Alliance. Prior to joining TCG, Ms. Baskin served for 15 years as executive assistant to the Chairman of the New York State Council on the Arts, working for then-Chairman, Kitty Carlisle Hart. She attended Mount Holyoke College, earned her B.A. from Colgate University, and a degree in arts administration from Adelphi University.