The Theater of War: What Ancient Greek Tragedies Can Teach Us Today

 
9781504632195: The Theater of War: What Ancient Greek Tragedies Can Teach Us Today

[Read by Adam Driver]

This compassionate, personal, and illuminating work of nonfiction draws on the author's celebrated work as a director of socially conscious theater to connect listeners with the power of an ancient artistic tradition.

For years, Bryan Doerries has been producing ancient tragedies for servicemen and women, addicts, tornado and hurricane victims, and a wide range of other at-risk people in society. Drawing on these extraordinary experiences, Doerries powerfully illustrates the redemptive and therapeutic potential of this classical, timeless art: how, for example, Ajax can help soldiers and their loved ones grapple with PTSD. The Theater of War-- wholly unsentimental but intensely felt and emotionally engaging-- is a humane, knowledgeable, and accessible book that will inspire and inform listeners, showing them that suffering and healing are both part of a timeless process.

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About the Author:

BRYAN DOERRIES is a writer, director, and translator. He is the founder of Theater of War, a project that presents readings of ancient Greek plays to service members, veterans, and their families to help them initiate conversations about the visible and invisible wounds of war. He is also the co-founder of Outside the Wire, a social-impact company that uses theater and a variety of other media to address pressing public health and social issues, such as combat-related psychological injury, end-of-life care, prison reform, domestic violence, political violence, recovery from natural and man-made disasters, and addiction. A self-described ''evangelist'' for classical literature and its relevance to our lives today, Doerries uses age-old approaches to help individuals and communities heal after suffering and loss.

Review:

''The Theater of War is an enthralling, gracefully written, and urgently important examination of the vital, ongoing relationship between past and present, between story and human experience, and between what the ancients had to report about warfare and human values and the desperate moral and psychological struggles that soldiers still undergo today. Bryan Doerries has given us a gift to be treasured.'' --Tim O'Brien

''Bryan Doerries's The Theater of War is a testament both to the enduring power of the classics and to the vital role art can play in our communal understanding of war and suffering.'' --Phil Klay, author of Redeployment, recipient of 2014 National Book Award

''One has the feeling we are being watched by our ancestors, that they continually call out to us, bestow us with gifts of their wisdom, warn us about habitual traps and foibles common to all humans. We rarely have the presence to listen to, to receive that wisdom. Bryan Doerries asks: what lessons will we finally take to heart from these ancients? In this riveting narrative, simply but elegantly told, Doerries movingly resurrects the inner life of a people who lived 2,500 years ago, but whose struggles evoke our own familiar and damaged present, now endowed by this wonderful book with more drama, more tragedy, more compassion, more possibility. Here is the proof at last: our future depends on the gifts of the past.'' --Ken Burns

''Bryan Doerries's ongoing staging of Greek tragedies before U.S. military personnel and others processing trauma is an act of courageous humanism: a tribute to vanished lives and a succor to current soldiers and citizens. In connecting the valiance and pathos of modern military life to a 2500-year tradition, Doerries has returned dignity to countless troops nearly destroyed by war. His capacious yet intimate book offers a privileged look into not only the psychological costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts and other proximate disasters, but also the larger meaning of inhabiting an unpredictable and militarized world.'' --Andrew Solomon, author of Far From The Tree

''I have always thought of Greek tragedies as the earliest public service announcements. Those ancient stories of family politics, their warnings about civic duty, and their parables of grief and its management are as vital today as when first written. Through his translations and public readings, and now this powerful book, Doerries offers modern audiences access to these ancient PSAs. We hunger and thirst for the guidance these plays contain.'' --Frances McDormand

''A deeply humane quest, movingly recalled. Doerries's passionate search for meaning in ancient text has led him out of the dusty stacks of scholarship into an arena of ecstatic public engagement. He has taken his elegantly reasoned thesis that the main business of tragedy has always been catharsis and created a theatrical experience that has lifted countless audiences out of isolation and into profound community.'' --Garry Trudeau

''This book illuminates how Greek tragedy penetrates to the deepest of levels in us all. It also shows how certain audiences, when given permission, can help illuminate the urgency and relevance of these ancient stories today. In his approach to tragedy, Doerries has found the way to remove out-of-date barriers and clean the outer crust of language with fresh words so that the essential can appear once more.'' --Peter Brook, award-winning director

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