“Whoever neglects the arts when he is young has lost the past and is dead to the future.” – Sophocles
What is the value of the humanities? One powerful answer comes from an innovative project called “Theater of War,” which presents readings and discussions of two of Sophocles’ plays—written over 2400 years ago about events and characters of the Trojan War—to modern audiences.
According to the project’s website, since 2008 a dynamic, ever-changing cast has given “over 200 performances of Sophocles’ Ajax and Philoctetes for military and civilian audiences throughout the United States, Europe, and Japan.”
“Plays like Sophocles’ Ajax and Philoctetes read like textbook descriptions of wounded warriors, struggling under the weight of psychological and physical injuries to maintain their dignity, identity, and honor. Given this context, it seemed natural that military audiences today might have something to teach us about the impulses behind these ancient stories. It also seemed like these ancient stories would have something important and relevant to say to military audiences today.” Read More
The Theater of War project combines story, the arts, empathy, and communication to address issues of mental health such as suicide and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Watch the video below to learn more (and see links at the bottom of the post).
- From NPR: “In Ancient Dramas, Vital Words For Today’s Warriors” by Elizabeth Blair
- Review and in-depth video interview at Didaskalia (online publication about the performance of Greek and Roman drama, dance, and music): “Interview: Theater of War” by Amy R. Cohen and Brett M. Rogers
- From Boston University’s Arion journal: “These are men whose minds the Dead have ravished”: Theater of War / The Philoctetes Project