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Classics Seminar Looks at Ancient, Modern War Traumas 2

Students, teachers, local residents and veterans will have the opportunity to attend the first high school performance of Theater of War, by the theatrical group Outside the Wire, which performs selections from Sophocles’ war dramas, Ajax and Philoctetes, to bring awareness of soldiers dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The performance will showcase four actors, along with students from the Classics Seminar, a new spring elective.

A panel of three audience members and one student will share their reactions to the performance. The student panelist will be Jordan Jancze ’13, whose mother is deployed overseas.

Jancze explained the significance of being able to see Theater of War. “I obviously cannot read my mother’s mind when she is deployed, so I think it will be interesting to see how the soldier reacts.”

A discussion among audience members will follow, led by director and founder of the group Bryan Doerries.

Veterans from the surrounding areas have been invited to the performance and discussion to share firsthand experience and insight into the plays.

Classics Seminar teacher Samuel Savage explained how seeing these issues portrayed in a form of art could be a coping mechanism for veterans.

“People who have seen what they’ve seen have a really hard time reaching out. It is a deeply personal wound and most people cannot relate. Being with others who have experienced similar things can give you something outside of yourself to talk about,” said Mr. Savage.

Mr. Savage and Latin teacher John Burke attended a performance of Theater of War earlier in the year. “It was deeply moving, even mind blowing to hear people connect with plays that are not at all far from reality,” Mr. Savage said.

Designing the curriculum for the Classics Seminar, Mr. Savage wanted to incorporate ancient drama. He contacted Outside the Wire this past summer. The group helped shape the curriculum of the elective and wanted to perform at Deerfield as a part of it.

Dr. Burke explained that, for the students of the Classics Seminar, “this is a great opportunity to see how Classics and Classical literature is being applied to modern issues and problems. I think it is fascinating that ancient literature can have something to say about a very modern problem.”

This week’s Valley Advocate said that “in Theater of War, combat-related psychological injury [is] viewed through the lens of Sophocles’ wartime tragedies.

The cast for the Deerfield presentation had not been announced at press time, but previous performances have featured high-profile stage and screen actors including David Strathairn, Gloria Reuben, Amy Ryan, and Paul Giamatti.”

According to the Advocate, “this New York-based company…employs classic theater works to illuminate and stimulate discussion on such issues as addiction treatment…and prison reform.”

The free performance will be held on May 12, at 7:00 p.m. in the Garonzik Auditorium.