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Theater Department takes a unique look at war in spring production

April 7, 2014

Theater Department takes a unique look at war in spring production

April 7, 2014

scene from If All the Sky Were Paper
Conor Mullen ’14 in scene from If All the Sky
Were Paper. (Photo by Madi Ellis ’14)

If All the Sky Were Paper, the spring main stage production of the Skidmore Theater Department, will be staged Thursday through Sunday, April 10-13, and Thursday through Saturday, April 17-19, in the Janet Kinghorn Bernhard Theater.

All shows are at 8 p.m. with the exception of Sunday, April 13, and Saturday, April 19, when there will be matinees at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12 general admission and $8 for students and senior citizens. Lary Opitz, professor and chair of the theater department, is director of the production; Garett Wilson is in charge of lighting and projection design; and Patty Pawliczak is costume designer. Peter Kobor is assistant projection designer and Kendall Gross ’16 is stage manager.

In every American conflict from the Revolutionary War to Iraq and Afghanistan, people have captured the horror, pathos, and intensity of warfare in their letters. Tens of thousands of these letters have been handed down from generation to generation. Best-selling author Andrew Carroll established the Legacy Project thorough which he has collected thousands of war letters. He created this piece of theater based upon the correspondence. If All the Sky Were Paper tells the story of war from the viewpoint of the men and women on the front lines, affected civilians, and loved ones on the home front.

According to the Albany Times Union (Nov. 13, 2013), Carroll began the Legacy Project in 1998 with a letter to advice columnist Dear Abby, requesting that people send war letters to him. “As thousands poured in, the History Channel did a documentary about the World War II letters Carroll amassed, which he then published in a pair of books that became best sellers,” the paper reported.

The Times Union continued, “More letters flowed in, and Carroll took a trip to 40 countries in 2004 to gather letters from foreign veteran and civilians during various conflicts. He also visited soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“His journey was chronicled in National Geographic, which director John Benitz, a theater professor at Chapman University in Orange, Calif., read. Three years later, he contacted Carroll about turning his journey and his collection into a performance.” The team won a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to support a tour of the play, which had its first staged reading in Albany, N.Y., in November 2013.

Opitz says he selected the play for its timeliness and the "opportunity to remind students and those who see the play that thousands of our fellow Americans are actively engaged in a war in Afghanistan." But he continues, "The play is not political in any way. It honors all of those who have fought for their country and continue to fight today. It reminds us of the impact of war."

Opitz acted in the play when it came to Albany last year as part of a 50-state Legacy Project tour. For Skidmore, he expanded it to 11 actors; students play military men and women and their families and friends, acting out the emotions and experiences in the letters.

To purchase tickets to see the Skidmore production, please contact the Theater Box Office, 518-580-5439, or email for reservations.

Cover photo:  Christopher Naughton ’17 (left), Ryan Crotty ’15, David Brummer ’14, Patrick Stanny ’15, and William Clark ’16. (Photo by Madi Ellis ’14).




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