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Arena Stage is also commissioning 25 playwrights to contribute to a new piece entitled “Our War” about the battles, Reconstruction and its aftermath.

By the end, the effort will have created a new body of works on the Civil War with 12 artistic commissions and others created by students.

Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust, a Civil War historian, has been leading the university to integrate the arts with academic pursuits.

“Engaging students through art and art-making is one of the ways in which universities prepare young women and men for life in a world that is far better connected and far more complex than at any other point in human history,” she wrote in an email about the project.

On the war’s 150th anniversary, she said, it’s important to remember how the values of freedom and equality were defined in President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address as the war’s purpose.

George Washington University President Steven Knapp said the war transformed American history, culture and industry _ even the concept of American democracy as it redefined equality.

He said tackling such a subject between academia and theater could provide a new model for learning: “It’s an experiment to see how far we can go in bringing together the strengths of the university and the strengths of the theater company.”

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