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For more than a decade, the Graduate Education Advancement Board Impact Awards have recognized new graduate student discoveries that directly benefit North Carolina. Our spring 2016 Carolina Chronicle will describe the research of all of the 2016 Impact Award recipients. For now, the research of one award winner, Gregory DeCandia, will provide a preview of the many innovative research projects to come in 2016.

Gregory DeCandia
Gregory DeCandia

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 UNC-Chapel Hill master of fine arts student in the Department of Dramatic Art, 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.

Silhouettes of Service’s theatrical representation gives voice to this community that traditionally stays humbly silent,” DeCandia said.

The interviews totaled 268 pages of transcript, edited to 29 script pages, he said. 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.

DeCandia and his team staged a first reading of the then work-in-progress, as a part of the University’s 2015 Veterans Day observance. Silhouettes of Service was highlighted in a set of three UNC Process Series works in January focused on veterans and their families. Downrange: Voices from the Homefront, by 2004 Impact Award recipient Mike Wiley, focused on the narratives of military families. Also included is An Loc, by Elisabeth Lewis Corley, focused on a battle during the Vietnam War and the lives affected.

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 experiences, DeCandia said.

DeCandia and the other 2016 Impact Award honorees will be recognized and share their discoveries with the University community at the 18th Annual Graduate Student Recognition Celebration on April 14.

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