This book is a call to action to address the sometimes difficult transition many soldiers face when returning to civilian life. It explores the development, performance, and reception of Contact!Unload, a play that brings to life the personal stories of veterans returning from deployment overseas.
The play presents an arts-based therapeutic approach to dealing with trauma. Researchers in theatre and group counselling collaborated with military veterans through a series of workshops to create and perform the work. Based on the lives of military veterans, it depicts ways of overcoming stress injuries encountered during service. The book, which includes the full script of the play, offers academic, artistic, personal, and theoretical perspectives from people directly involved in the performances of Contact!Unload as well as those who witnessed the work as audience members. The play and book serve as a model for using arts-based approaches to mental health care and as a powerful look into the experiences of military veterans.
Introduction / Graham W. Lea and George Belliveau
Part 1: Researching, Developing, and Creating
1 Staging War: Historical Contexts of Theatre and Social Health Initiatives with Veterans / Michael Balfour
2 Contact!Unload: The Cauldron / Chuck MacKinnon
3 Facilitating Therapeutic Change through Theatre Performance / Alistair G. Gordon, Marv Westwood, and Carson A. Kivari
4 A Soldier’s Tale: “Nobody Understood What I’d Done” / Britney Dennison
5 Listening through Stories: Insights into Writing Contact!Unload / Graham W. Lea
6 Suicides to Sydney / Foster Eastman
7 Coming Home / Tim Laidler
8 Reconnaissance and Reclamation: Learning to Talk about the War / Anna Keefe
9 Impact on Veteran Performers / George Belliveau, Blair McLean, and Christopher Cook
10 Holdingon to the Script / Phillip Lopresti
Contact!Unload: Annotated Playscript
Part 2: Performing, Witnessing, and Evaluating
11 Finding My Truth / Timothy Garthside
12 Unpacking Contact!Unload Using Relational-Cultural Theory / Candace Marshall with Graham W. Lea
13 Contact!Unload Revisited: Degrees of Separation / Lynn Fels
14 Remembering / Carl Leggo
15 A Poet(h)ic Reflection on Contact!Unload: Voices of Women Through War
/ Heather Duff
16 Soldiers Lead the Way in the Fight for Mental Health among Men / John S. Ogrodniczuk
17 Audience Experience of Vicarious Witnessing in Performing War / Marion Porath, Marla Buchanan, and Elizabeth Banister
18 Understanding the Impacts of Contact!Unload on Audiences / Jennica Nichols, Susan M. Cox, and George Belliveau
19 Vulnerable Strength Seen / JS Valdez and Jennica Nichols
Conclusion / George Belliveau and Graham W. Lea
George Belliveau is the head of the Department of Language and Literacy Education and a professor of drama/theatre education at the University of British Columbia. He is a professionally trained actor and has participated in over 100 theatre productions as an actor, director, or playwright. He is a member of the College of the Royal Society of Canada.
Graham W. Lea is an assistant professor of theatre education at the University of Manitoba. He has also taught at the National Institute of Education /Nanyang Technological Institute in Singapore, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Prince Edward Island. He has been involved in theatre for thirty years, working as a playwright, stage-manager, director, actor, musician, and technician.
Marv Westwood is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Counselling Psychology at the University of British Columbia. He is recognized internationally for the development of the Veteran’s Transition Program.
Contributors: Michael Balfour, Elizabeth Banister, Marla Buchanan, Christopher Cook, Susan Cox, Britney Dennison, Heather Duff, Foster Eastman, Lynn Fels, Timothy Garthside, Alistair G. Gordon, Anna Keefe, Carson A. Kivari, Tim Laidler, Carl Leggo, Phillip Lopresti, Chuck MacKinnon, Candace Marshall, Blair McLean, Jennica Nichols, John S. Ogrodniczuk, Marion Porath, JS Valdez