Student Veterans’ Stories Take Centerstage in Choreographer Joe Goode’s New Piece “Reentry: The Process of Resilience”

ReentryBerkeley, CA – November 2016. The UC Berkeley Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies continues its 2016/2017 season with the new physical theater piece Reentry: The Process of Resilience, created by acclaimed choreographer Joe Goode from interviews with Cal student veterans. The production uses verbatim text, physical movement, music, and other forms to share veterans’ narratives of their UC Berkeley experiences and craft a nuanced portrait of reintegration, resilience and the tenacity of the human spirit. Reentry: The Process of Resilience plays November 17-20, with performances Thursday, Friday & Saturday at 8:00 PM and Saturday & Sunday at 2:00 PM in Durham Studio Theater on the UC Berkeley Campus. Tickets are $13 to $20 and can be purchased online through the TDPS box office (http://tdps.berkeley.edu/events/reentry) or at the door.

To create Reentry: The Process of Resilience, award-winning choreographer and TDPS Professor Joe Goode worked closely with the Cal Veterans Center to gather stories and explore the unique challenges facing student veterans, above and beyond the challenges faced by all combat veterans who reenter civilian life. In the course of interviewing  veterans, including both current students and recent graduates, Goode was struck by the strength and resilience that these individuals exhibited in order to not only get to UC Berkeley, but to then also remain and be successful. “Their stories, to a great degree, are stories of survival and of overcoming great obstacles in order to get this rigorous education,” says Goode. “Having experienced the rigors and the discipline of the military, and then the rigors and discipline of going to a Research I university, these veterans have a lot of maturity and wisdom to share, especially about grit, tenacity, coping, and overcoming.”

Goode’s interviews revealed that integrating into Cal’s liberal university environment proved difficult for many student veterans. Says Goode, “Regardless of their own personal political views, there’s a stigma attached to being military or ex-military at this liberal, radical university, and there’s also the social dynamic of Berkeley to consider. Navigating how they fit into, or don’t fit into, these environments is something a lot of veterans wanted to talk about [in the interviews].” The physical theater piece Reentry will portray these stories and a range of other experiences related to UC Berkeley, as well as topics such as navigating personal relationships and returning from a combat zone.

An award-winning choreographer, the leader of San Francisco-based dance company the Joe Goode Performance Group, and a non-veteran, Joe Goode acknowledges that he is an unlikely mouthpiece for military voices. When the Institute for Health and Well Being of Military and their Families, in collaboration with Kansas State University, first approached him in 2013 to see if he would do a project with wounded veterans around their reintegration into civilian life, he almost said no. “I was reluctant because I am not a veteran myself and I don’t believe in telling other people’s stories if I can’t live them,” said Joe Goode. “So I only reluctantly agreed to go and meet with the people in Kansas, but after I talked to them I was totally sold. The stories were so compelling, deep, and human. Some veterans are very eager to tell their stories; I hope I can be of service in getting their stories into the world.”

After that initial production in Kansas, Goode’s interview-to-performance process took on a life of its own as “The Resilience Project,” an ongoing performance series by the Joe Goode Performance Group, which primarily explores stories of disabled combat veterans. Members of the dance company conduct interviews, then use those texts to create a visceral, emotional dance work. Says Goode of the process, “I call it Verbatim Theater. We’re not coming up with the words; we are editing and arranging and sculpting, but every single word is from an interview. It is all verbatim from the mouths of real people.”

In producing Reentry: The Process of Resilience at UC Berkeley with student artists, Joe Goode is using the same methodology and creation process that he uses with his professional dance company. However, instead of looking specifically at injured combat veterans’ stories, Reentry focuses on the wide-ranging experiences of Cal student veterans, including some who saw combat and some who did not. Additionally, the piece will be far less dance-heavy than Goode’s previous productions. “I’m delighted to be presenting this piece with the Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies,” says Goode. “We have very talented students here, both actors and dancers, and as a result I can lean much more heavily on the acting. That’s new territory for me and very exciting.” The cast of eight TDPS students (non-veterans) tasked with bringing these stories to life includes: Joe Ayers, Linda Girón, Hesed Kim, Logan Moody, Marie Morley, Ely Orquiza, Alex Parkin, and Baela Tinsley.

About TDPS

The Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies teaches performance as a mode of critical inquiry, creative expression and public engagement. Through performance training and research, we create liberal arts graduates with expanded analytical, technical and imaginative capacities. As a public institution, we make diversity and inclusion a key part of our teaching, art making and public programming.

About Joe Goode

Professor Joe Goode is an acclaimed choreographer and Artistic Director of Joe Goode Performance Group, with whom he has performed in the U.S., Canada, Africa, South America, and the Middle East. His performance installations have been commissioned by: the Krannert Art Museum; the M. H. DeYoung Museum; Capp Street Project; and the Fowler Museum of Cultural History, UCLA. In addition to creating more than 50 new works for his own company, Goode has also been commissioned for dance companies across America.Joe Goode has received a New York Dance and Performance Award (for his production of Deeply There); the Isadora Duncan Award for choreography; fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the California Arts Council; and the Irvine Fellowship in Dance. He is the recipient of the 2007 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship for Choreography and the USA Artist’s Fellowship for Choreography in 2008. Goode has also been honored with awards of excellence from the American Council on the Arts, the Business Arts Council/San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, and the California Dance Educators Association.