Acts of War: Iraq and Afghanistan in Seven Plays
Karen Malpede, Michael Messina, Bob Shuman
Northwestern University Press, Mar 25, 2011 - Drama - 366 pages
As Karen Malpede points out in her introduction to Acts of War, tragedy "arose as a complement to, perhaps also as an antidote to, war." The greatest of the early playwrights wrote from experience—Aeschylus and Sophocles were generals in the Athenian army, and Euripides was a combat veteran. Electronic media reports war instantly, but the stage provides an unrivaled venue for facing the horror of armed conflict on a human scale.This timely anthology of plays by American and British writers bears witness to the realities of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for combatants and civilians alike and asks what it means to be a citizen in a democracy at war.
From violence on the battlefield and in the cells of Guantanamo to the toll exacted on the homefront, the seven plays collected by Malpede, Messina, and Shuman explore in depth the costs of war. Sometimes with humor or erotic charge, always with compassion and surprising insight, these contemporary plays return to the theater a necessary social edge.
Karen Malpede’s introduction sets the plays in the broader contexts of theater’s roots and recent history, while award-winning journalist and author Chris Hedges provides a foreword.