Theater of War
Theater of War is a project of Outside the Wire, a company that uses theater and other media to analyze and confront the social issues of various communities. Combat-related physical and psychological issues are not easy topics to approach with the general public. Theater of War seeks to broach some of these controversial issues by wrapping them within the stories of the Greek plays of Ajax and Philoctetes, which depict similar themes. In Sophocles’ Ajax, written sometime between 450–-430 B.C., the title character, like many soldiers returning home from war, faces the struggle of returning to society with the horrors of his actions weighing heavily on his ability to effectively assimilate. Working through the shame of being tricked by Athena into committing a crime, Ajax is ultimately unable to shirk the guilt of his actions and commits suicide.
The plot is timeless and the issues universal. When performed before both civilian and military communities across the United States, Europe, and Japan, the play is a platform or catalyst for a greater discussion about the at times devastating impact of war on individuals, families, and the surrounding community. Like Ajax, many service members feel that a certain amount of shame surrounds seeking psychological help, and Theater of War aims to de-stigmatize this need by raising awareness and sparking discussions. An empathetic community fosters resiliency for service men and women working through post-deployment issues.
Theater of War has presented 200 plus productions to more than 40,000 veterans, active duty service members, military families, and caregivers. Readings have been held everywhere— from Guantanamo Bay and the Pentagon, to churches, high school auditoriums, university campuses, museums, and theater organizations in communities across the country. Readings are always stimulating and lively events, as a town-hall style discussion follows every performance.