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'Undeclared History' forged from Hofstra past

By Cody Heintz

As a part of Hofstra University's conference on Vietnam, "Into Sunlight: The Impact of War on the Social Body from the Vietnam Era to the Present," the Department of Drama and Dance put on a performance of Undeclared History. Written by Hofstra Alumnus Isaac Rathbone, the story is based on Hofstra during the height of Vietnam protests between the years 1968 and 1972. Oral histories obtained from Hofstra veterans, activists faculty and journalists were drawn upon for the play's story and characters. Professor of Drama and Dance Cindy Rosenhal directed this enjoyable look into Hofstra's past.

The story of Undeclared History is based upon a love story between returning veteran Finn (Adam Griffith) who lost an arm fighting in Vietnam and Diana (Kristin Nemecek). The story is paced well as the developing romance is faced with Diana trying to find her place in all of the protests and Finn trying to get over his experiences in Vietnam.

Many of the story's key plot points are taken right from the history of Hofstra, such as students sitting in on the Registrar's office to shutting down campus and marching on Hempstead Turnpike and SGA trying to takeover The Hofstra Chronicle. Nemecek puts on a strong performance as a naïve girl from New Jersey and Grifftih puts on an emotional show as returing wounded veteran. Interjected with the scenes of Hofstra are witty and funny displays of Richard Nixon's foreign policy. Nixon (Ian Poke) humorously shows the fallacy of Nixon's actions with the help of an ensemble with a baseball bat.

Another point of interest in the play is the contrast shown by the characters of Hector and Jason. Drawing on the racial aspects of the 60's,

Hector played by senior Kevin Best is also a returning veteranwho turns into a member of the Black Panthers and quarrels with Jason (Gary Newman) who is a Caucasian member of Hofstra's ROTC. The contrast between Jason and Hector highlight the differences in opinion soldiers and veterans have towards the Vietnam War.

Undeclared History is an entertaining look into the history of Hofstra and also serves as commentary on the times. It helps to show what Hofstra was in the 60s and 70s. With strong performances from the cast it helps to draw the audience into the past. With use of a minimalistic use of sets it keeps the action fast paced and relies on the performances of the cast instead of extensive set pieces. The crew also did a good job as the play required good lighting to show the different points of interest to the audience as the play used two different levels in the Black Box Theater and often has more than one thing going on onstage at the same time. Undeclared History  does a good job of not only entertaining, but also educating.

 

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