Voice of the Warrior: Building a Community

Voice of the Warrior covers the winter and spring phases of 2018 Warrior Chorus in 2018, where four previous Warrior Chorus Fellows will take new groups through three phases: readings and education of Greek theater, a new interpretation which these Fellows compose, and then performance.

This blog takes place the first day in Jenny's class, around a table in a yoga and mindfulness space in NYC:

Each Warrior Chorus class is different this time: different attendees, different instructors, different interpretations of different selections. But there is one common thread that binds them tightly, even beyond the military connection: community.

As Jenny’s class introduced their way around the table, each shared a sentence of what brought them into the room and what drew them towards Aquila Theater’s Warrior Chorus. Whether the speaker was a Veteran or Family Member, an actor or a scholar, each admitted to the comfort and joy in the family of theater.

To everyone in the room, the theater is more than a series of lines (in this case, lines written millennia before) telling someone else’s story; it was a way to share their story or the story about someone they loved. It was a way to build and share with the community, and in particular with this group a way to share the stories of Veterans and a way to give a voice to those who might be voiceless. They see in these plays the stories of their own wars, hear the stories they or their family members might not be able to put proper words to, and now as they introduce themselves to each other they each confess they are in this room to share those stories.

It’s humbling, and it’s genuine.

The community builds quickly, with the warm-up exercises comfortable and full of laughter. Movement, loud, heads shaking, stocking feet (it’s in a yoga studio, after all) bouncing up and down, there is already a feeling that each member has shared something close and can trust the others so there will be no judgment. It’s been nearly an hour, mostly of conversation and laughing and usually getting Jenny to laugh, and by the time the warm-up is complete what we see around the table is a chorus.

The laughter continues, even when it is down to business. Notebooks are colorful, and screens start lighting up with scripts (and with the scholar, attending virtually to prevent spreading a cold). While some parts are assigned, the bulk of the scene is a coincidental Greek chorus. Since the table is also a chorus the lines are divided to go around and around the small group and they immediately circulate quickly, flowing rapidly from person to person building up steam into one voice and one community.

The only interruptions come from the scholar, the metallic reverberations from the phone being mounted on a music stand, but when the voice speaks the chorus hushes except to ask more questions and scribble notes in their bright notebooks. The group becomes deeply engrossed in the questions, asking notes of lineage, of why the warriors value so much the relationship to the mother when born of the father and what is the proper battle cry and what is the real tale behind this war and the battles to come. There are stories shared here, both of the combat in the story and the combat in the lives around the table, even the combat in day-to-day life. No one is excluded, even those who before this class might not have considered themselves directly a “warrior.”

Now this is a chorus of warriors, and it is only the first day of the first phase.