Sophocles and the Theatre of War Catharsis

Now that Bin Laden is dead, we can turn the rapt attention of one eye to our future and how we choose to cope with death, loss and drama in a theatre of war.  Young men and women are asked to wear the uniform of the United States of America and kill and punish people for pay under our flag.  How does that experience affect them?  How does knowingly killing strangers influence behavior, thoughts, a sense of self-security and humble future wishes?

Those questions are addressed in a keen new program — based on the war plays of Sophocles — that will help address and teach our troops how to cope with loss and betrayal and honor and the code of war:

This is a Sources Sought Notice. Joint Task Force GTMO, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba is seeking qualified vendors for a Firm Fixed Price (FFP) service type contract to provide three (3) performances of the interaction stage play, “Theater of War” , created, adapted and copy written in 2008 by Bryan Doerries, presenting readings of Sophocles’ Ajax and Philoctetes to the JTF GTMO military community. Each performance will be followed by audience participation. The anticipated posting date of this solicitation is on or before 9 May 2011 with a closing date on or about 25 May 2011.

Here is that want in expressed action:

From Sophocles’ play, Ajax:

Woe to the mother, in her close of day,
Woe to her desolate heart, and temples gray,
When she shall hear
Her loved one’s story whispered in her ear!
“Woe, woe!” will be the cry–
No quiet murmur like the tremulous wail
Of the lone bird, the querulous nightingale–
But shrieks that fly
Piercing, and wild, and loud, shall mourn the tale;
And she will beat her breast, and rend her hair,
Scattering the silver locks that Time hath left her there.
Oh! when the pride of Græcia’s noblest race
Wanders, as now, in darkness and disgrace,
When Reason’s day
Sets rayless–joyless–quenched in cold decay,
Better to die, and sleep
The never-waking sleep, than linger on
And dare to live, when the soul’s life is gone;
But thou shalt weep,
Thou wretched father, for thy dearest son,
The best beloved, by inward Furies torn,
The deepest, bitterest curse, thine ancient house hath borne!

It is so tremendous that the U.S. military is using theatre to help the troops deal with their mortality, morality and catharsis in the theatre of war.

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