Summer reading book shares themes with upcoming play ‘Dead and Buried’
Published: Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 4, 2012 00:09
Every year Miami University’s first-year students are assigned a book to read before coming to school in the fall. This is called the Summer Reading Program. This year’s choice, Shade it Black: Death and After in Iraq, an autobiography by Jessica Goodell, shares many of the same war-related themes as the Theater Department’s upcoming play “Dead and Buried”.
Shade It Black and “Dead and Buried” are both about female marines who worked in the Mortuary Affairs unit during wartime. The Mortuary Affairs unit is responsible for finding the remains of fallen soldiers and ensuring their return to America. Theater director Lewis Magruder feels this topic is a very heavy subject for students, but is an important one to convey.
“Both the play and the book have issues we think the freshmen would respond to,” Magruder said. “It deals with some serious life issues, but there’s a good balance between the dramatic and the light.”
According to Magruder, Bid, the main character of the play, is different from Goodell, in the fact that Bid has been back from war for over 16 years and now works at a cemetery. Both women, however, are still trying to deal with the chaos and depression of their past lives. Magruder has encouraged all of the performers to read Shade It Black for inspiration.
Though Magruder is part of the Summer Reading Program Committee, he said that this thematic connection is very challenging to find and the theater department was not aware about their similarities when choosing the play.
“The two things occurred without purposefully coming together,” John Jeep, co-chair of the Summer Reading Program, said. “I would call it, I think, good fortune.”
Senior Adam Howe, who has been on the Summer Reading Program Committee for almost three years, believes that by connecting the summer reading book with the play, first year students are able to take away more from the story.
“The play further expounds on what’s going on in the book,” Howe said. “It’s good to rethink their opinions, whether to reaffirm them or change them.”
Jeep admitted that he is always discouraged by too few students reading the assigned book, but said he feels it is a critical college experience for them.
“When our students come to school, they are still high school students,” Jeep said. “We want to turn them towards the academic life.”
As a current student, Howe agrees that the Summer Reading Program has the potential to impact first year students.
“There are so little ways to communicate to the freshmen who come in, but [Shade It Black] helps show another side of war that they never get to see,” Howe said. “It’s a good book to open that window and bring in that other perspective.”
“Dead and Buried” will run Oct. 3 through 7 in Gates Theater, located in the Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $6 and are available at the Shriver Box Office.