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Article updated: 11/16/2010 4:52 PM

Harper play offers perspectives on human cost of war

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More than 200 pairs of boots belonging to Illinois soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq will be onstage as part of Harper College's fall production of "Bury the Dead," a play offering perspectives from major U.S. military conflicts dating to World War I.

The production, which opens a day after Veterans Day on Friday, Nov. 12 tells the story of six dead soldiers who rise from the grave, asking to rejoin the living.

"This play boldly asks us to consider the worth of each of these young lives and the impact their loss had on those left behind," Director Laura Pulio-Colbert says. "I hope that we, as an audience, can rise above our political views to consider the cost that comes as a result of war."

In addition to the onstage boots from the American Friends Service Committee's acclaimed Eyes Wide Open exhibition, Harper's updated staging of the 1936 play will include music and projected images from the six major U.S. conflicts of the last century.

The boots on Harper's stage will include those of Christopher J. Boyd of Palatine, Kevin Grieco of Bartlett, William Newgard of Arlington Heights, Adriana Salem of Elk Grove Village, and William Chaney and Jakub Kowalik of Schaumburg.

Vietnam veteran Curt Renz of Arlington Heights who lost his best friend from high school, a college roommate and people with whom he had played Little League Baseball in the war will be among the actors.

Drafted into the army in 1968, Renz served as a sergeant with the First Cavalry Division. He recently visited the mother of his high school buddy who is memorialized with a brick at the redesigned and reconstructed 127-year-old Memorial Park in Arlington Heights.

Renz, a former broadcast journalist in Chicago, has appeared in two Harper plays and several community theater productions.

Marty Knight of Rolling Meadows, whose son is in the U.S. Air Force, plays the First General in the play.

"As the First General, I feel I am a patriotic American placed into a difficult position of leadership with the most unlikely of situations trying to make sense of it all yet very politically aware of the 'consequences' of men who refuse to be buried and forgotten," he said.

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