Veteran’s Day play to unite civilians and vets



By Martha Groppo

Buell Armory hosts an assortment of military trappings, but for several days it will also be filled with stories of war.

“Bringing It Home: Voices of Student Veterans,” a play based on the stories of some of UK’s student veterans, is returning to campus for a revival performance after a warm reception in the spring.

The play will be performed for a limited audience of 150 per night on Nov. 11 and 12 at 8 p.m. in Buell Armory. Tickets are free.

“We wanted to bridge the gap between the civilian and military world,” said Herman Farrell, director and head writer of “Bringing it Home.”

The production is the result of a collaboration between the Veteran Resource Center, the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History and the Department of Theatre.

After watching the production in the spring, Tony Dotson, coordinator of the UK Veteran Resource Center, thinks the play accomplished its goal.

“In my opinion, this play does more to bridge that gap than anything I’ve seen,” Dotson said.

The play is written in an unconventional style that places the audience members close to the cast and has audience members move to different viewing locations to watch at several points in the play. The play was the product of a class Farrell taught entitled “Staging History.”

Writers used direct quotes from interviews of student veterans conducted by fellow student veterans for the Nunn Center History.

The ongoing Nunn Center veteran oral history project is called “From Combat to Kentucky,” and the interviews used for the play are posted in their entirety online.

The play has also been performed at Eastern Kentucky University, and Dotson said that people involved with the play “are looking at packaging it so any college can do it.”

The students portraying veterans in the fall production are the same students who had the parts in the spring. The play took on a new dimension for several of the cast members when the veterans they depicted in the play showed up to watch the finished spring production.

Kevin Sullivan, theatre senior, also got to meet the student veteran he plays, Nathan Noble.

“He’s pretty awesome,” Sullivan said. “He’s the greatest guy in the world. Just from meeting him I would trust him.”

Brian Sprague, another theatre senior, plays Andrew Napier whom he met on opening night in the spring. He said Napier’s father was also present and approached him after the play saying, “I don’t know whether to shake your hand and call you son, or Brian.”

“As a theatre major, that was the ultimate compliment,” Sprague said.

Alex Koehl, theatre senior, plays Jonathan Herst. He was able to talk with Hearst after the production and said that though it is probably emotional seeing a difficult experience from your life told in your own words to an audience, Herst “felt good about it.”

The actors agree that students should come see the play to improve their understanding of their fellow students who are also veterans.

“I think it opens up your eyes to who else is in class with you,” Koehl said. “They bring a lot to the student body. Veterans our age are just like us. People should come and show their support.”

“Not a lot of people know about the war and what’s going on,” Sullivan said. “A lot of students just go to college and think about college. What we do is pretty minute compared to what they do.”

Dotson described the play as “extremely raw and powerful. Frankly, I think every school should be doing it.” He said it was therapeutic for the veterans whose interviews are used in the script to be interviewed in the first place. “Now they see a group of people willing to tell that story,” Dotson said. “They show up on opening night, and it’s standing room only.”

Those involved with the play see it as a way to demonstrate respect for people who have served in combat. “Just come to support the veterans on Veterans Day,” Sullivan said.

Tickets are free, but seating is limited. Students can request tickets by emailing [email protected].