Not only is the influence of Greek drama palpable in everything from Shakespeare to modern television, the insights contained in Greek tragedy have shaped our perceptions of the nature of human life. Poets, philosophers, and politicians have long borrowed and adapted the ideas and language of Greek drama to help them make sense of their own times. This superb anthology features a cross section of the most popular—and most widely taught—plays in the Greek canon.
Fresh translations into contemporary English breathe new life into the texts while capturing, as faithfully as possible, their original meaning. This outstanding collection also offers short biographies of the playwrights, enlightening and clarifying introductions to the plays, and helpful annotations at the bottom of each page.
Cambridge Greek Play
A detailed time line of the dramas, as well as a list of adaptations of Greek drama to literature, stage, and film from the time of Seneca to the present, helps chart the history of Greek tragedy and illustrate its influence on our culture from the Roman Empire to the present day.
There is a freshness and pungency in these new translations that should last a long time. Sophocles himself was a general. The audiences for whom these plays were performed were undoubtedly composed of citizen-soldiers. Also, the performers themselves were most likely veterans or cadets. Doerries has employed other plays from ancient Greece to serve other purposes as well, addressing issues such as domestic violence, drug and alcohol addiction, gun violence and prison violence.
Presentations can be tailored for service members, veterans, prison guards, nurses, first responders, doctors and police officers. That drama, live theater, can be a machine for creating empathy and community. No lights, no costumes, no set, no musical enhancement. The story is delivered raw and unadorned directly to the ears of the audience. And as Bryan has said many times, the real drama begins once the reading is finished and discussion begins.
A few seconds later, his wife Tecmessa finds him and sets loose her terrible cry. That cry echoes down 2, years of history, out of the collective unconscious. Men and women and gods, war and fate, lightning and thunder and the universal in everyone. The United States has been at war for 16 years. Four, five or six tours in Iraq or Afghanistan or both.
The stresses are unbearable. Armed forces suicide rates have never been higher. A Department of Veterans Affairs study was released in From to , as the civilian suicide rate rose about The problem is particularly worrisome among female veterans, who saw their suicide rates rise more than 85 percent over that time, compared to about 40 percent for civilian women. And roughly 65 percent of all veteran suicides in were for individuals 50 years or older, many of whom spent little or no time fighting in the most recent wars.
Retired Army Gen. Loree Sutton, a medical doctor and commissioner of the Department of Veterans Services for the city of New York, was an early advocate of Theater of War. We had to have something that would really engage our troops and their leaders. An experience that really spoke to their inner fears, needs and struggles.
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I was blown away. I just know my buddy would be here today if he had seen that you can have these feelings, these struggles and you can still be the strongest of warriors. Against all odds, we were able to negotiate a contract with DoD. But that initial contract funding has now run out. The challenge for Doerries is raising not only awareness but money. According to the Pentagon, the Pentagon is strapped. The discomfort he seeks triggers the fight or flight mechanism in the listener, heightening not only their dramatic apprehensions but their senses.
Their attention. Their retention. You walk out of the best of these shows exhausted. On August 9, , Michael Brown, 18, was shot to death during an altercation with police officer Darren Wilson. Ferguson became synonymous with violent unrest and militarized police, with Black Lives Matter and new social justice and old urban stereotypes of us versus them. The very name Ferguson, like Watts or Newark or the Lower Ninth Ward, became a sound bite, another shorthand for injustice and struggle, for a set of seemingly fixed assumptions about America and Americans.
The Greek Plays
It was Christy who suggested we set the choruses to gospel, and then I insisted that we build a choir that included police singers. Landing in St. Louis, Doerries is tired. He is also hungry.
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He is also on his phone. He answers questions as he walks, his rolling luggage at his heels like a devoted family pet. In other words, he is as he always is. Avid, and in motion. The Greek chorus will be played by an all-star gospel choir from several area churches, a youth choir, and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department Choir. The music has been composed by Phil Woodmore, a local music teacher and musician and singer of renown. Even in the challenge of it, there was so much structure around it. So there was still a safe zone there for me.
Even the TV news crew in the room is brought up short by it. There will be three performances in a single day. Louis suburb of mixed incomes, mixed outcomes, mixed demographics. Picture Berlin in black-and-white. A terrible civil war has just ended in Thebes. Creon has taken the throne and ordered the rebellious brother, Polyneices, be left to rot unburied. Defying that order, Antigone rushes to bury him.
Creon orders Antigone put to death, walling her up in a small cave where she eventually commits suicide.
The Greek Theatre - Bradfield College
The breakneck pace of these readings gives the events of each play a drumbeat not only of urgency but of inevitability. The price of good fortune is calamity, and it is swift-moving and it is inexorable, and as the chorus says, destiny can be avoided, but it cannot be escaped.
Fate is a one-track, high-speed train wreck, and for the audience, this means a swift rush of endorphins. Most textbook translations of these Greek classics, the ones dreaded by high school students, read like a 19th-century catalog of waxworks. The heroes cast shadows, but nothing moves. More devoted to scholarship and preservation than the imperatives of living theater, the whole thing is inert on the page.
Even the best modern versions lose dramatic momentum in the bogs and thickets of their own poetry. But every Doerries translation is a hot rod. A souped-up, stripped-down engine of event. Behavioral rather than aesthetic, each one is a master class in compression; in conflict and climax and American vernacular English. Lives are ruined and race to their inevitable end without the ornamentations of poetry. Directing and translating are one thing. Creon has been destroyed by fate, by his own convictions and decisions.
Related The Greek Play
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