The Wounded Warrior: Outside the Wire’s Theater of War Presents a Dramatic Reading of Scenes from Sophocles’ Ajax

Date(s) - September 24, 2015
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Mayer Auditorium, Keith Administration Building, USC Health Sciences Campus 1975 Zonal Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90033


Visions and Voices
Medical Humanities, Arts, and Ethics Series

As part of the Medical Humanities, Arts, and Ethics Series, which engages core health issues in society today, we will present scenes from Sophocles’ Ajax in a dramatic reading by Outside the Wire’s Theater of War.

Ajax tells the story of a fierce warrior who slips into a depression near the end of The Trojan War after losing his best friend, Achilles. Struggling with survivor’s guilt and feeling betrayed by his command, Ajax attempts to murder his commanding officers, and ultimately takes his own life. The play tells the story of the events leading up to his suicide, as well as how his wife and troops attempt to intervene.

It has been suggested that ancient Greek drama was a form of storytelling and ritual reintegration for combat veterans. Sophocles, one of the great Greek tragedians, was a general himself. During his era, Athens was almost always at war, often on multiple fronts. The audience for whom Ajax was originally performed consisted of nearly 17,000 citizen-soldiers, and the actors themselves were most likely combat veterans and cadets. Seen through this lens, ancient Greek tragedy appears to have been a powerful public-health tool aimed at helping service members and veterans confront and address the moral, psychological, and spiritual dimensions of war, as well as return to civilian life between deployments.

Outside the Wire is a social-impact theatre company that uses theatre and other media to help communities address pressing public-health and social issues, such as combat-related psychological injury, suicide, end-of-life care, prison reform, political violence and torture, natural and manmade disasters, domestic violence, alcohol/substance abuse, and addiction. Theater of War is an innovative public-health project by Outside the Wire that presents readings of ancient Greek plays as a catalyst for town-hall discussions about the challenges faced by service members, veterans, their families, their caregivers, and their communities. Using Sophocles’ plays to forge a common vocabulary for openly discussing the visible and invisible wounds of war, Theater of War events are aimed at fostering understanding and compassion, while mobilizing citizens and resources to help improve the lives of everyone affected by war.

RSVP is required. Click here to RSVP.

Organized by Pamela Schaff (Pediatrics and Family Medicine), Lyn Boyd-Judson (Levan Institute for Humanities and Ethics), Alexander Capron (Law and Medicine), Lynn Kysh (USC Libraries), and Berislav Zlokovic (Physiology and Biophysics). Co-sponsored by the Keck School of Medicine’s Program in Medical Humanities, Arts, and Ethics, the USC Pacific Center for Health Policy and Ethics, and the USC Levan Institute for Humanities and Ethics.