Theater of War, a two-hour program held at Colby Nov. 15, blended classical Greek tragedy with a contemporary town-hall style discussion of armed service members’ and veterans’ visible and invisible wounds of war. It also played to some of Colby’s strengths, showcasing the relevance of the humanities in contemporary society, demonstrating the power of literature and performance to convey complex emotional human experience, and highlighting the value of civic engagement to bridge a wide gulf in understanding of the sacrifices and the impact of combat service.
The audience in Page Commons included veterans, students, faculty, and community members who heard dramatic readings from Sophocles’s play Ajax by professional actors. That was followed by a panel discussion featuring first-person accounts of the psychological legacy of combat from the perspectives of veterans, a family member, and an Army psychiatrist. A discussion elicited emotional accounts from audience members and panelists who had served in the armed forces and from family members dealing with the effects of war. Students contributed insightful analysis of the play and its relevance as well as compelling questions.