Graduate Student Gregory DeCandia: Sharing Powerful Narratives of Military Experience

Gregory DeCandia (photo by Will Owens)
Gregory DeCandia (photo by Will Owens)

The UNC Graduate School’s annual Graduate Education Advancement Board Impact Awards recognize graduate students for contributions they are making to our state.These awards are possible thanks to the unwavering support of the Graduate Education Advancement Board (GEAB). The following is a snapshot on dramatic art graduate student Gregory DeCandia’s work. Learn more about the 2016 winners, including more students from the College of Arts and Sciences.

North Carolina is home to more than 775,000 military veterans, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and an estimated 100,000-plus active military personnel. That’s close to 900,000 powerful narratives of military experience in North Carolina alone.

Gregory DeCandia, a master of fine arts student, and his colleagues conducted interviews with members of North Carolina Vietnam Veterans Inc., UNC-Chapel Hill’s ROTC and veterans throughout the nation. From these narratives, DeCandia’s team created Silhouettes of Service, a solo theater performance piece. The interviews totaled 268 pages of transcript, edited to 29 script pages.

The finished piece incorporates a rotating aluminum cube framework, created by technical production graduate student Jacob Walton; the elements of the frame move to allow images to be projected and accommodate other storytelling elements. Silhouettes of Service was highlighted in a set of three UNC Process Series works focused on veterans and their families. Downrange: Voices from the Homefront, by 2004 GEAB Impact Award recipient Mike Wiley, also was featured. All Silhouettes of Service readings and performances have offered feedback sessions with members of the creative team and local veterans’ organizations to provide a supportive environment for the audiences to share their own experiences.

“It is Greg’s intention, using the tools of theater, to bring to the stage the voices of veterans of the armed forces so that their particular stories may be told. Silhouettes of Service promises to be the capstone on an exceptional record of achievement for this outstanding student,” said adviser Ray Dooley, M.F.A.