"It took a hundred performances for me to realize people want to talk about the darkest aspects of the human experience.  I had thought tragedies were an extreme expression of pessimism, depicting a world in which we humans barely apprehend the forces upon us -- fate, chance, luck, governments, genetics, gods -- until it's too late, and we've destroyed ourselves and our families for generations to come.  What if the purpose of tragedy is not only to wake us up to the fact that we can make a choice before it's too late but also to connect us with each other -- and understand that we can face it as a community?

How would you describe the "Theater of War" project?

How do the mythic experiences of Ajax and Philoctetes as portrayed by Sophocles connect to the lives of contemporary American veterans and their families?

How would you situate both the "Theater of War" project and Bryan Doerries's book within the context of our war and memory course theme?

"Theatre is not about holding up a mirror to the audience and saying this is you," says Dorries.  "I believe in distance rather than documentary."  Comment.


Possible Starting Places

Theater Of War.

Theater Of War Trailer, January 24, 2012.

Robin Wright, "Theatre Of War: Sophocles' Message For American Veterans," New Yorker (September 12, 2016).

Abigail Zuger, "Review: 'The Theater Of War' -- Applying Greek Tragedies To Our Own," New York Times, September 28, 2015.

"Bryan Doerries' Theater Of War," Poptech, November 14, 2011:  A description of the Philoctetes Project that compares 5th-century Athens and today's returning American veterans.

News And Reviews

Sukhdev Sandhu, "Sophocles And Awe: The Director Hitting War Vets With Greek Tragedy," Guardian, October 6, 2015.

James Shapiro, "Review of 'The Theater Of War,' By Bryan Doerries," New York Times, October 2, 2015.

Patrick Healy, "The Anguish Of War For Today's Soldiers, Explored By Sophocles," New York Times, November 11, 2009.

Clyde Haberman, "Like War Itself, Effects Of War Are Hell: Ask The Greeks," New York Times, September 18, 2008.

Video And Audio Sources

Theater Of War.

"Bryan Doerries On 'The Theater Of War: What Ancient Greek Tragedies Can Teach Us Today,'" PBS Books, November 22, 2015.

"Interview: Theater Of War," Didaskalia, 8 (2011):  A two-part interview in which professors Amy Cohen and Brett Rogers interview Bryan Doerries and Elizabeth Marvel about their involvement in the Philoctetes Project.

"Theater Of War: Ancient Words, Modern Wounds," Columbia News, April 20, 2011.

"In Ancient Dramas, Vital Words For Today's Warriors," All Things Considered, NPR, November 25, 2008.

"Play Reading: Sophocles' Philoctetes," YouTube, 2008:  Bryan Doerries backgrounder on the Philoctetes Project precedes a 50-minutes reading of the play.


Peter Meineck, "'These Are Men Whose Minds The Dead Have Ravished': Theater Of War/ The Philoctetes Project" Arion, 17 (Spring/Summer 2009):  A lengthy article that offers a good overview of the early stages of the project.


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