poster for Ryan Smithson and Ghosts of WarALUM SPEAKS AT UALBANY & HAS WORK PERFORMED

The UAlbany Performing Arts Center, operating under the auspices of the College of Arts and Sciences and in conjunction with the New York State Writers Institute and the Department of English, is pleased to present author Ryan Smithson on Thursday, October 26, 2017 at 4:15pm and a stage presentation of his book, Ghosts of War, on Wednesday, November 1, 2017 at 7:30pm.

Smithson, a UAlbany graduate (M.A., English, 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. What began as an essay for an English class turned into much more when Ryan compiled his writings into his memoir, “Ghosts of War: The True Story of a 19-Year-Old GI” (Collins, 2009).  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 October 26. There will be a book signing following the talk.  The event is free and open to the public. No tickets are required.

Chicago’s Griffin Theatre Company has adapted Smithson’s book for the stage.  The author’s experience of enlisting in the Army at the age of 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.

Griffin Theatre Company produces and tours literary adaptations, original work and classic plays that challenge and inspire.  Their mission is to create extraordinary and meaningful theatrical experiences for all ages by building bridges of understanding between generations that instill an appreciation of the performing arts.  In its twenty-five years of existence, the company has provided a wide range of work including world and mid-west premieres of acclaimed scripts, critically lauded productions of Shakespeare and original adaptations of novels.

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

There will also be a special morning matinee performance of Ghosts of War for high school groups on Thursday, November 2 at 10am.  This performance is sold out but high school educators are invited to put their groups on a waiting list by contacting the UAlbany Performing Arts Center office at (518) 442-5738 or

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.