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Ghosts of War 

The stage presentation of Ghosts of War features Ryan McBride and will be presented on Nov. 1 at 7:30 p.m.

ALBANY, N.Y. (Oct. 24, 2017) – Ryan Smithson, a UAlbany alum who has written a highly-praised memoir about serving in Iraq, will be a guest of the New York State Writers Institute (NYSWI) Thursday, Oct. 26, at 4:15 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center Recital Hall.

Smithson will read from his memoir Ghosts of War: The True Story of a 19-Year-Old GI (2009).

The Performing Arts Center will present a stage performance of Ghosts of War by Chicago’s Griffin Theatre Company at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 1, in the Main Theatre.

Smithson, who earned his master’s degree in English from UAlbany in 2015, grew up in East Greenbush and attended Columbia High School. Like most teenagers, he was unsure of where life would lead after high school. Inspired by the patriotism following 9/11, he joined the Army reserves and was deployed to Iraq in 2004. Returning home to a new bride and a college campus, he began writing about his combat experiences, which developed into the memoir, Ghosts of War.

While at UAlbany, he worked on a stage adaptation of his memoir. It received the Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award. His thesis director was Associate Professor of English Edward Schwarzschild.

Publishers Weekly described the book as “…a fascinating, often humorous—and occasionally devastating—account of the motivations and life of a contemporary soldier,” and School Library Journal termed it “a thorough but powerful look at one man’s experiences.”

Smithson has since traveled the country making public appearances at colleges, high schools, libraries and education conferences and he continues to benefit from the therapeutic aspects of writing and storytelling. He will speak about his life, his book and his time in Iraq on Oct. 26. There will be a book signing following the talk. The event is free and open to the public. No tickets are required.

Griffin Theatre Company has adapted Smithson’s book for the stage. The author’s experience of enlisting in the Army at 17, undergoing the disciplinary harshness of basic training and living through the fire of combat are explored in this unflinchingly honest portrayal of the war in Iraq. Griffin Artistic Director William Massolia adapted and directed the work, which features Ryan McBride in the one-person play. Smithson will attend the performance and will participate in a post-show discussion.

Advance tickets for the Ghosts of War performance are $15 for the general public and $10 for students, seniors and UAlbany faculty and staff. Tickets purchased on the day of the show are $20 for the general public and $15 for students, seniors and UAlbany faculty and staff. A 20 percent discount for veterans is available for this show. For reservations and information, contact the Box Office at (518) 442-3997 or visit the Performing Arts Center website at

Smithson’s appearance and the Ghosts of War performances are made possible with support from the UAlbany Alumni Association, University at Albany Foundation and University Auxiliary Services.

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