John Benitz, associate professor of theatre, has won a $10,000 Community Stories grant from Cal Humanities to travel throughout California with his production of If All the Sky Were Paper by Andrew Carroll. The grant will allow the California War Letters Preservation Project to identify, film, and post on the web the stories of California veterans, in addition to the staging of several readings of If All the Sky Were Paper at high schools and vet centers. This grant comes in addition to a $20,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts received earlier this year for the project.
About the California War Letters Preservation Project: Letters written home during wartime provide a window into the diverse experiences of those who have fought and reveal the effects of war on warriors, their families, and communities. Expanding on their earlier efforts to preserve and share American war letters, director John Benitz and historian Andrew Carroll will collaborate on a new project focusing specifically on California veterans. Working in partnership with veteran-serving organizations, they will collect letters, archive them, and share them on a website, in both text and audio formats, along with scholar-developed background materials. Performance pieces to be developed will provide both a way to share already collected stories and encourage new community contributions.
About the Cal Humanities Community Stories Grant: Grants are awarded to projects that give expression to the extraordinary variety of histories and experiences of California’s places and people to ensure that the stories can be shared wisely. These narratives help us find our commonalities, appreciate our differences, and learn something new about how to live well together. Since 2003, Cal Humanities has supported approximately 400 story projects and granded nearly $3 million to enable communities to voice, record, and share histories — many previously untold or little known.