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Basetrack Live to Tell Veterans' Stories on Stage

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In past generations, conscription meant military service was a collective hardship -- nearly every family understood the difficulties of serving and the horrors of war. Now it's a niche group of Americans who shoulder the burden.

But Miami Dade College's MDC Live Arts, with help from the Knight Foundation, is aiming to make the voices of today's veterans heard.

See also: South Floridian Mykal Laury Dances His Way Through Lion King

The initiative will be headlined by a multi-disciplinary theater piece at the South Miami Dade Cultural Arts Center. Additional events are also scheduled around it, including a photo exhibition at The Betsy Hotel, and a series of writing and story-telling workshops that'll be free for local veterans.

Part of a national tour, Basetrack Live (called a "documentary theater piece") incorporates performance, music, new media, journalism and technology into one show.

It includes photos and video sourced from photojournalists working in Afghanistan, an original musical score (played live) and a script written from veteran's accounts. It's real-life experience meets on-stage storytelling, and it's showing at the SMDCAC at 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 21.

The show was inspired by a photojournalism project entitled One-Eight Basetrack created by war journalist Teru Kuwayama. Basically, the project embedded photographers alongside troops in Afghanistan to shoot iPhone images, then share them online. The project drew acclaim and was eventually adapted for stage.

The overall initiative is season-long, and was made possible by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, as part of its Knight Arts Challenge.

The photography exhibition -- another aspect of the project -- has been on display at The Betsy Hotel since Art Basel, and will be in place through the end of the year. It features the work one of One-Eight Basetrack's original photographers, Balaz Gardi.

Lastly, there will be free workshops on creative writing and story-telling. They will be led by writer/actor/director Teo Castellanos and are open to all local veterans. They'll run Saturdays from January 10 through April 25 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the MDC Kendall Campus.

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