Thursday, September 7 2017
4:00pm - 5:00pm

Q&A with Bryan Doerries, creator of Theater of War

Theater of War is an innovative public health project that presents readings of ancient Greek plays, Sophocles' Ajax and Philoctetes, as a catalyst for town hall discussions about the challenges faced by service members, veterans, their families, caregivers and communities. Using Sophocles' plays to forge a common vocabulary for openly discussing the visible and invisible wounds of war on individuals, families and communities, these events are aimed at fostering understanding and compassion, while mobilizing citizens and resources to help improve the lives of service members, veterans, their families, and people in their communities.

It has been suggested that ancient Greek drama was a form of storytelling and ritual reintegration for combat veterans by combat veterans. Sophocles was a general. During the 5th Century BC, Athens was at war for more than 80 years, often on multiple fronts. The audience for whom Ajax was performed consisted of nearly 17,000 citizen-soldiers, and the actors themselves were most likely combat veterans and cadets. Seen through this lens, ancient Greek tragedy appears to have been a powerful public health tool aimed at helping service members and veterans confront and address the moral, psychological, and spiritual dimensions of war, as well as return to civilian life between deployments.

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