On April 4, 2019, The Redfern Arts Center presented The Telling Project. The project is directed by Douglas Wilcox and shares the stories of seven different veterans.
According to the program for The Telling Project was founded by Jonathan Wei in 2008. At the time, Wei was working with a group of military veterans and military family members in Eugene, Oregon. Their idea with the project was to give these people the opportunity to speak directly to their communities about their experiences in and around the military.
The project is described by Wilcox as, “…theatre that is responsive to ordinary people and their stories. By drawing attention to and revealing the hidden stories that so many of us carry in our lives. We have an opportunity to break down the barriers that separate us apart.” According Wilcox’s directors notes, “Their goal is that people will become closer after hearing the stories of others.”
Shannon Mayers, Director of the Redfern Arts Center, said the Keene Theatre department was trying to reach a new audience in Keene by bringing this performance to Campus. They had never done anything to do with the military or veterans, but were trying to reach an audience in Keene that these topics would resonate with.
The show was filled with the stories of all seven people who all had very different experiences and jobs in the military. Some of the stories were positive and some were negative.
Audience member Greg Talbert, who is also the son of one of the Veteran performers, said, “I thought the show was really good. Some of the stories were more bittersweet than I expected them to be all war glory stories and it wasn’t that.” The stories that were told by these veterans made a regular person understand more of what it’s like to be in the military.
The wife of performer Robert Ball, Debra Ball said, “I thought it was incredible. Because he’s loosened up (talking about her husband), I’ve seen that in him and I am gathering that from the others, It is important to talk about.”
Doing this project not only has helped audiences all across to further understand the things veterans have gone through. It has also been beneficial to the people that get up on the stage who have to talk about these, sometimes, horrible things. Debra said she believes it is beneficial to them.
The performance ended with all of the performers allowing the audience to do a Question and Answer session with them. One topic generated a bit of controversy when an audience member asked the actors how somebody who has been through so much with the military still agrees with war.
One of the actors responded by saying she thought the question was extremely disrespectful.
In conjunction with this performance, on Wednesday, April 3,The Keene State College Department of Public health showed a documentary called The Human Cost of War in the Mabel Brown Room. The documentary portrayed that while veterans who receive care from the VA get the best possible care, The VA doesn’t nearly have the resources to support the number of veterans coming into the system. Due to this, most veterans don’t receive the care they need in time.
Matt Goselin can be contacted at