Veteran-Students Will Take the Stage to Share Their Personal Stories of War on November 7 and 10

The Telling Project, an on-campus production, is among several events that deepen the understanding of the military and veterans’ experience

Stephen Harris ‘19 – a Marine who spent more than 18 months serving in Afghanistan’s Trek Nawa area, Yemen, Okinawa, Mt. Fuji and Thailand – discusses his story with Dr. Max Rayneard of The Telling Project.

The Telling Project, a non-profit that travels the nation to put local veterans in staged productions to share their personal stories of war, is coming to William Paterson University in November. Having produced more than 40 performances since 2008, The Telling Project aims to use theater to deepen the understanding of the military and veterans’ experience.

View all campus events happening during Veterans Week Nov. 4 - 11, 2017

Six veterans from the William Paterson community will star in the University’s production – four current students, one August 2017 graduate, and Charles Lowe, director of public safety and campus police. Dr. Max Rayneard, a senior writer and producer for The Telling Project organization, conducted lengthy interviews with each of the veterans on campus this summer, transcribed those interviews, and turned them into a draft performance script. In September, he presented his so-called “blueprint” to the veterans and then collaborated with them on the editing process.

Immediately thereafter, the vets began rehearsing with stage director Ed Matthews, of the University’s Performing Arts Department. For most of them, their first theater rehearsal with Matthews was their first theater rehearsal ever.

“It’s a challenge in that regard, but the basics are similar. You’re trying to give them confidence in what they’re presenting and how it will be presented,” Matthews says. “It’s their story; they can’t tell it wrong. It’s about the flow … presenting that story in the best way possible.”


Shea Center for the Performing Arts

  • Tuesday, November 7 @ 12.30 p.m. for WP students
  • Friday, November 10 @ 7.30 p.m. for the general public

--Vets and WP students are free
--All students (other than WP) are $8
--General admission is $15

Tickets may be purchased online: via phone: 973-720-2371, or in-person at the box office.

Veteran Patrice Crocevera ’17 is one of those who lacked stage experience and was subsequently “scared out of her mind” going into this project, she says. However, the desire to provide the audience with personal insight and a broader perspective about the war pushed her through the fear.

A U.S. Air Force medic who spent seven months in Bagram, Afghanistan, Crocevera worked in the urgent care center and as backup to the emergency room. She tended to members of the U.S. military as well as local residents.

“Being a medic, you get to see a different side of war. And working with the locals especially, you get to see a lot of the damage that was done,” Crocevera says. “You get to have very personal interactions with people, and they remind you of your friends and family. You become aware of the dissonance. It kind of hits you in the face. I think my takeaway from the military is very different than most people’s takeaway.”

“…To me, my story isn’t necessarily about me,” she adds, of her role in The Telling Project. “It’s about giving due justice to people who maybe don’t have that voice in our culture.” 

“War is not just something in a textbook, or on TV, or something that happens far away,” Rayneard says. “We want you to sit in a room and listen to these veterans – not because it’s easy; not that it’s fun, though it can be; not that it’s entertaining, though it can be, but because it’s an important part of what it means to be in this country and what it means to be an American.”

The University will recognize its veteran students at several events during Veteran's Week, from November 4 through November 11. On November 6, beginning at 12 p.m., approximately 5,000 flags will be planted at Zanfino Plaza to represent the number of United States fallen soldiers during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. On Thursday, November 9, at 12:30 p.m., a Remembrance Hour will be held in the University Commons Multi-Purpose Room, where the names of the NJ fallen soldiers will be read.

William Paterson, honored as a “military friendly school” in 2017 for the seventh year in a row, had 202 veterans, active-duty military members or their dependents enrolled in the Spring 2017 semester, according to the University’s Office of Veteran and Military Affairs. That office provides information and resources to veterans, active military and dependents, and offers assistance with the unique challenges military students face as they transition from service to college life. Additionally, William Paterson students may join the Student Veteran Organization, an active club on campus, and Omega Delta Sigma, a national veterans’ fraternity.