The opening special session for OHA 2014 will showcase our Madison host site by featuring a staged reading of the innovative documentary theater piece, “Uncivil Disobedience.” This performance, held in the newly renovated Memorial Union Theater, will highlight oral histories of a thunderous event in the Vietnam-era anti-war movement, the 1970 Sterling Hall bomb explosion on the campus of the University of Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Story Project, in partnership with the Oral History Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, developed the performance after years of collecting oral histories from people who experienced the bombing firsthand and from people whose lives were profoundly affected by the event and its aftermath. The bomb, intended to destroy the Army Mathematics Research center, killed physics researcher Robert Fassnacht, injured three other people, caused tremendous damage to the building, and sent aftershocks through both pro- and anti-war America.
The original documentary theater piece played to sold-out audiences in its 2012 Wisconsin premiere. It has been enhanced for this conference by multi-media additions developed by the UW-Madison Oral History Program. As professional actors speak their parts, primary source documentation will appear on a screen above them. This kick-off special session will introduce both the OHA 2014 conference theme, “Oral History in Motion: Movements, Transformations, and the Power of Story,” and the local conference setting. Funding from the Wisconsin Humanities Council and Friends of the UW-Madison Library System makes possible this unique special event, which will be free and open to the public.