Theaters of War, Ancient and Modern

Posted on December 7th, 2009 by

The New York Times recently published the following article: The Anguish of War for Today’s Soldiers, Explored by Sophocles.

Strathairn, Rubeun, and Wright

The Pentagon has provided $3.7 million for an independent production company, Theater of War, to visit 50 military sites through at least next summer and stage readings from two plays by Sophocles, “Ajax” and “Philoctetes,” for service members.

A special performance was held on Monday night for dozens of service members, veterans, relatives and Pentagon officials at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan. The actors in the one-hour reading were David Strathairn, Jeffrey Wright, Gloria Reuben and Adam Driver, a former Marine.

“Through theater we’re trying to offer some ideas and experiences for our troops and veterans to think about when they don’t feel comfortable opening up about their private thoughts,” said Mr. Doerries, whose work grew out of an earlier effort, the Philoctetes Project, that drew media attention for a performance at the Juilliard School last fall.

“Sophocles was himself a general, and Athens during his time was at war for decades,” he continued. “These two plays were seen by thousands of citizen-soldiers. By performing these scenes, we’re hoping that our modern-day soldiers will see their difficulties in a larger historical context, and perhaps feel less alone.”


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