Tag Archives: service

‘Bastrack’ Artists Inspire Student Curiosity

“First, I would like to say…thank you for your service.”

In a UCLA class of 400 students, young women and men raised their hands and stood to ask a question of Tyler LaMarr: Marine, actor and lead performer in Basetrack Live.  Before every question, each student expressed their gratitude. “My brother is a Marine and I want to say thank you.”

Tyler LaMarr, star of Basetrack, talks about the project in UCLA Professor Robert Winter's class.
Tyler LaMarr, star of Basetrack, talks about the project in UCLA Professor Robert Winter’s class.

“Can you tell us, do you ever feel angry about how some people say negative things about the military?”

“How do you feel when actors who have never been in service portray Marines or soldiers in combat?”

“Do you think the government is telling the truth about what goes on over there?”

The questions flowed for two hours, evolving organically into a conversation: thoughts, opinions, fears, hopes. Tyler’s path since graduating from high school was markedly different from the majority of the students he now faced, but any one of them could have been him — they were more similar than different.

“Can you talk about the stress you felt when you came home?”

“I want to ask you about sexual assault in the military – how bad is it, and what can we do?”

“Did you always want to be an actor?  How does a Marine get to be an actor?

The room was filled with laughter, hushed silence, intense listening.  You could feel the listening.  At the end of class, instead of the usual rush of students pushing to leave, hurrying to the next class, hurrying to lunch, hurrying somewhere, they pushed to the front of the room to shake hands with the young man who proudly talked about his choices.  One young woman said, “If you had to do it all again, if you could make any choice, would you do anything different?”

“No,” said Tyler.  No, I would do it all the same.”

Hundreds of handshakes. Thank you for your service.

 CAP UCLA presents “Basetrack Live” tomorrow night in Royce Hall. And our “Peace & Quiet” station on the Royce Quad, will remain up until after the performance. Join us to experience this unique theater work and join the conversation by visiting “Peace & Quiet” or contributing to our Tumblr

Tyler visiting the "Peace & Quiet" installation outside Royce Hall.
Tyler visiting the “Peace & Quiet” installation outside Royce Hall.

Bringing ‘Peace & Quiet’ to Campus

I am a civilian. 

I am a veteran.

Two stacks of small, white note-cards, each printed with the above words.  On each card, underneath the printed words are handwritten responses:

I am a civilian, and I want to ask…what did you witness?

I am a veteran, and I wish the world worked in a way that no one needed an army.

civilian

These cards were part of a public installation called Peace and Quiet. Conceptualized and designed by Matter Architecture Practice, the original Peace & Quiet was installed in Times Square in 2012 as a temporary dialogue station where veterans and civilians, two groups whose paths increasingly do not cross – could engage in conversation, leave a note, share a story, or just shake hands.  When the Center committed to presenting the Los Angeles premiere of Basetrack, a live performance piece featuring the real-life stories of servicemen and women; I began doing research into art projects that explored the veteran/civilian experience in new ways, and after much searching, I found Peace & Quiet.  Luckily, Sandra and Alfred, Matter’s Co-Directors were willing and eager to revisit the project, so Peace & Quiet will have a new life: re-designed and installed on the UCLA Quad, between the iconic Royce Hall and Powell Library.  The quad, one of UCLA’s great public spaces, provides an ideal circumstance to host a dialogue station, to initiate and inform an exchange of ideas, and to offer a highly visible hub highlighting the many programs UCLA offers the veteran community.

Last month, before a meeting with the team from Matter, I stood at the northern edge of the Brooklyn Naval Yard, where Matter has their studio.  The sky was impossibly clear and blue for an August day in New York, a vibrant backdrop for the Yard’s 200-year-old buildings, which stood their ground next to new construction. Established by President John Adams in 1801, the Yard’s first naval ship was built and launched to suppress the slave trade off the coast of Africa.

navyyard2

 

I am a civilian. 

I am a veteran.

Our country’s relationship to conflict is deep and complicated.  At the tip of the Naval Yard, surrounded by the bridges that connect Brooklyn to Manhattan, I hoped that our version of Peace & Quiet will be its own bridge: connecting stories, revealing history, closing the gap.

For more information on the upcoming Peace & Quiet installation click here.

For more information and tickets to our presentation of Basetrack Live, click here.

Help get the dialogue going by participating in our Peace & Quiet tumblr. We’re starting with the concept of service. Share a thought or a quote or a video or photo that answers the question “How do you serve?”