Boughton Place hosts Iraq veteran/author Derek McGee

Derek McGee

Derek McGee

In honor of Veterans’ Day, Boughton Place in Highland will host an author talk and book-signing with Derek McGee on Friday, November 14 at 7 p.m. In “The Middle East and the Search for the Right Amount of Meddling,” he’ll discuss his recent memoir, When I Wished I Was Here: Dispatches from Fallujah. The reading, presented as part of Boughton Place’s new monthly Conversations series, will be held on the Moreno Stage at the nonprofit arts, education and community center.

McGee served two tours in Iraq and wrote the memoir about his experiences there. “‘How do good people do bad things?’ I once asked. By the end of my time in Iraq, I asked, ‘How do people do good things at all?’” The book was described by film director Wes Craven as “beautifully written and very moving… God knows it’s a story that needs to be told, and Derek tells it like it is.”

After the reading, McGee will lead an audience discussion about the complex situation and turmoil that continue to plague the Middle East. Signed copies of the book will be available for purchase. McGee is also the author of a recent article, “An Iraq Vet’s Journey from Wall Street to Occupy Wall Street,” published in The Nation. The cost to attend the event is a suggested $5 donation.

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The Boughton Place property has two main buildings on its four acres, with classroom and workshop space, kitchens, a gazebo, wi-fi, an accessibility ramp, bedrooms for overnight stays, four bathrooms (two with showers), a large screened porch, plenty of parking and landscaped grounds. Home to the reassembled original Moreno Stage, built at the Moreno Institute in Beacon in 1936 to facilitate psychodrama work – a form of group psychotherapy – Boughton Place has acquired an international reputation amongst psychodramatists, says Alexandra Langley, office and theater manager, but many locals don’t seem to know that the facilities there even exist.

“They don’t know that we have this gem sitting right here in the Hudson Valley that has not only the theater and stage, which is great, but also classroom spaces and the ability to host overnights. What we would love to do is create more arts programming here, host celebrations, events, classes…there are a lot of different spaces and we can sleep up to 14 people, so it’s great for multi-day immersion-style programs.”

The monthly Conversations series is just in its beginning stages. “We have a roster of potential presenters,” says Langley, “but nothing is set in stone. It was a vision of our board president to start a sort of salon-style, interactive series of conversations on a variety of topics. We’ve spoken to somebody about doing a Japanese tea ceremony presentation; to a number of writers; somebody might be doing a healthy lifestyle presentation – it’s really going to be a kind of smörgåsbord.”

While the discussion with Derek McGee takes place on a Friday, Langley says that the Conversations series will be moving to every second Thursday evening in the future. “And if anybody is interested in presenting something for the Conversations program, just contact us.”

Conversation with Derek McGee, Friday, November 14, 7 p.m., $5, Moreno Stage, Boughton Place, 150 Kisor Road, Highland; (845) 691-7578, www.boughtonplace.org.

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