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The Theatre of War: what ancient Greek tragedies can teach us today (Paperback)
  • The Theatre of War: what ancient Greek tragedies can teach us today (Paperback)

The Theatre of War: what ancient Greek tragedies can teach us today (Paperback)

Paperback 304 Pages / Published: 08/10/2015
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For years, Bryan Doerries has been producing ancient tragedies for current and returned servicemen and women, addicts, tornado and hurricane victims, and a wide range of other at-risk people in society. Here, drawing on these extraordinary firsthand experiences, Doerries clearly and 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, or how Prometheus Bound provides insights into the modern penal system. Doerries is an original and magnanimous thinker, and The Theatre of War - wholly unsentimental but intensely-felt and emotionally engaging - is a humane, knowledgeable, and accessible book that will inspire and inform readers, showing them that suffering and healing are both part of a timeless process.

Publisher: Scribe Publications
ISBN: 9781925228274
Number of pages: 304
Dimensions: 210 x 148 x 22 mm
Edition: New edition


`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

`[The Theatre of War] 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

`Moving and personal ... Doerries's potent memoir reveals that the enduring power of Greek dramas lies in their ability to help us understand the present.'

* Publishers Weekly *

`Engaging and sometimes moving.'

-- Sukhdev Sandhu * The Guardian *

`A compelling, raw book ... both memoir and manifesto; [Doerries] chronicles his own gradual discovery of the power and relevance of Greek tragedies while also championing their social utility ... Across a gulf of two and a half millennia, the Greek tragedians can still help us know and cure ourselves.'

-- Nick Romeo * Boston Globe *

`'An insightful tale of Doerries' discovery of classical mythology and his evangelical-like zeal of turning plays written 2,500 years ago into salves for war, death, prison, illness and other suffering that can break, diminish or redeem us ... The Theatre of War aims to narrow the divide between soldier and civilian, to lay bare - through verse and myth -- the horrors and transgressions of the battlefield.'

* L.A. Times *

`The Theatre of War moves effortlessly between a social discourse on war, autobiography and a love letter to classical academia ... A profoundly moving case for the healing power of drama.'

* The Lady *

'As more and more information is coming out about how western governments that should know better have been neglecting the veterans of recent wars, especially those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, resulting in a high rate of suicide, this book is very timely ... Doerries' direct, high-volume technique appears to connect sufferers with their emotions in a way the Greeks would have called "cathartic".'

-- Margaret Atwood * New Statesman 'Books of 2015' *

`The themes are timeless ... Doerries examines both suffering and healing in this new, albeit ancient light.'

* New Statesman *

'Heart-gripping ... Mr Doerries staged excerpts from the Greek plays for war veterans and their commanders, prison guards and prisoners, and others, followed by forums. The results, as he recounts in fluent, agile prose, upheld his belief that communal exposure to the power of the Greek tragedies can be a profoundly useful healing tool.'

* New York Times `Best Books of 2015' *

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