It was presented as a workshop piece, but neither did know nor did I realize that while having an amazing theater experience last night at BAM. Aquila Theatre presented a truly thought-provoking A Female Philoctetes by Sophocles. I find Greek tragedy very hard to pull off, as it is highly stylized and must push the bounds of emotion in the actors without seeming forced or stilted. What I saw last night was a wonderful use of simple movement, buoyed by the playing of a flute and a chorus in song, that made me invest in the story and ultimately in its theme, which was centered around dealing with depression.
What I also did not know until the talkback was there was reason behind why the story had such depth and was being told by its artists. This was "war literature," and the play was produced in collaboration with artists and actors who were also veterans. Such an interesting concept, in my opinion, since I never thought of Greek tragedy in that way, but it is definitely the case - Sophocles himself was a general, and in this instance, wrote about a person who felt isolated, betrayed and was wounded (physically and mentally) after war.
There was so much to discuss after seeing the play and hearing the veterans describe their experiences after war that I was reminded of why I love theater. Theater is a perfect medium to share stories of life and allow an audience to share experiences with each other and with the artists in a safe environment. And it's best when it leaves me with something to chew on, which is why I am very excited about my next project - a reading of a play as part of the PEN World Voices Festival. The goal of the festival readings is to generate "conversations on art, politics, dreams, war, and philosophy, meant to give American audiences a rich awareness of the greater global dialogue." Let the dialogue begin!