Date(s) - 11/20/2015
A multimedia theater piece created by a Vietnam veteran and professor to convey the common experiences of those who have served in combat will be presented in November at California Lutheran University.
“Under Fire: Stories of Combat Veterans Across Generations” will be performed in the Black Box Studio Theatre on the Thousand Oaks campus.
Director Michael J. Arndt, a Cal Lutheran theater arts professor from Newbury Park, wrote the script based on interviews he conducted with veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Operation Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Afghanistan. Videotaped interview excerpts, dramatized scenes and monologues, and an original score and choreography tell the story of human beings at war and others left behind. Ninety percent of the script is the veterans’ own words.
Arndt designed the piece as a way to help veterans share their stories with each other and with the public and to facilitate healing. All performances are free and will be followed by a discussion featuring the performers, veterans and professionals who work with veterans. This is the first large-scale presentation of “Under Fire.”
To prepare for their roles, the student actors went through a boot camp led by a Marine veteran and talked to family members and others about their war experiences. All of Cal Lutheran’s freshmen are required to attend “Under Fire” and are studying and discussing key portions of the script in their freshmen seminar classes.
Drafted into the Army after graduating from college, Arndt was an infantryman who conducted reconnaissance missions and was involved in 52 combat assaults. In 2010, he returned to the battlefields of Vietnam for the first time to confront the traumatizing memories of what he had seen there. Arndt took a sabbatical from Cal Lutheran and received funding from the Ventura County Arts Council to begin weaving his experiences and those of other combat veterans into the theater piece. Although the details varied, the stories had common elements of fear, love, humor and courage.
Arndt’s goal is for the theater piece to be presented widely at military hospitals, veterans homes and public venues throughout the country.
Admission is free, but reservations are required via the Theatre Arts Department website at CalLutheran.edu/theatrearts. The theater is located in the Theatre Arts Building at 141 Memorial Parkway on the Thousand Oaks campus. For more information, call 805-493-3452.