World War II

A night of Oral histories with Adam Mellema

  It was a time when Patriotism swelled, and Americans banded together with a single goal.  It was a time when the women went to work for the men, and the men went to work for Uncle Sam.  It was a time of courageous leadership, and virtuous choices. Tom Brokaw called the men and women who lived through World War II as the “greatest generation;” a title they richly deserve. Remembering World War II draws us back to this era through oral histories; each story capturing a unique piece of the early 1940s' experience.

Adam brings to life the stories of real men and women in their own words. This poignant collection has been warmly received as both a gripping history lesson and a tender trip down memory lane.  He’s been a featured performer at Veterans Associations, Calvin College, and with the Bay View Historical Society of Northern Michigan. In 2003, while living in the nation’s capital, Adam created “Washington Talks!” a project at Round House Theatre that brought true stories of influential Washingtonians to the stage. Adams Grandmother The Washington Post wrote “his audiences learned that even a place that famously lacks a distinctive identity is near to bursting with stories very much its own.”  Although he set out looking for stories about Washington, he also found a remarkable collection of World War II narratives! Stories of heroes that had to be told.  

In Remembering World War II, we meet Meyer Fishbein: a slacker engineer who dreamed big and made the army proud.  Then there’s Evelyn Sholley—Mellema’s own grandmother—who found adventure AND a husband!  Her narrative celebrates the role of women in the war effort, and provides a unique look at the importance of connectedness with our own family history.  And finally, there’s James A. Tinker.  This special West Michigan gentleman shares his experiences while he ages on stage from 18 to 75.  Mellema further draws the audience into the American experience with familiar tunes from the era. For those who were there, Remembering World War II is a bittersweet memorial and a living cultural text.  

In his “spare time,” Mellema brings his stories to the screen as a children’s television producer. Adam received a regional Emmy award for his work on Come On Over, a kids show from Enthusiastic Productions. Adam is also a Writer & Producer of the popular Disney Channel “What’s What Editions,” including High School Musical 2, Camp Rock, Cheetah Girls: One World, Jump In, Starstruck, the original High School Musical, and the much anticipated Camp Rock 2. Adam studied acting at The [Goodman] Theatre School in Chicago and received a BA in Theatre from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Trained in the tradition of the Michigan Interscholastic Forensic Association, Adam ranked among the top three storytellers in the state three years running. Adam’s work has brought him across the country, spending about a half of his time on the road.  He has been seen on CNN, at the Washington Storytellers Theatre, the Detroit Institute of Arts, The Perkins School for the Deaf and Blind, and in Salt Lake City during the 2002 Olympics.