“Using Sophocles to Treat PTSD”


Prof. Esposito has written to us here at the Core blog to let us know about an extensive and interesting article from the most recent Harper’s Magazine, entitled “Using Sophocles to Treat PTSD”. He writes:

I thought you might be interested in it especially since it’s about the performances of Sophocles’ Ajax, Philoctetes, and Women of Trachis (as well Euripides’ Bacchae) done by the NYC-based company Theater of War who performed Ajax at Boston University in December, 2011 and will be performing again (this time both Ajax and Philoctetes) at the 25th anniversary celebration of the Core on May 1, 2015. Bryan Dorries, director of Theater of War, sent it along to me, and expressed his excitement about returning to BU with his company next May.

Here’s the opening of the article:

With its winding lanes and stands of cherry trees, Camp Zama, a U.S. Army base twenty-five miles outside Tokyo, feels more like a meditation retreat than a military facility. Until it was seized by the First Cavalry in September 1945, Zama was the West Point of the Imperial Japanese Army. Through the decades, the forest has been pushed back to accommodate a larger airstrip, a fire has taken out the old Japanese barracks, and most of the camp’s remaining structures have been replaced with drab buildings set discreetly into the lush green prettiness. One structure from the Imperial era remains: a large theater. Its exterior is plain but grand; its cavernous interior is decorated like a wedding cake, white with yellow piping. The charm of the building is difficult to reconcile with what happened outside its walls, in 1945. When the few Japanese soldiers left at Zama learned of their country’s surrender, some drew swords, cried, “Long live the emperor!” and stabbed one another to death or committed hara-kiri.

The full piece is behind the Harper’s subscriber-only paywall, but Core students can access it here (as it pertains to our study of Ajax in the first-year Humanities).

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