Voice of the Warrior: Capturing the Battle

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.

We now enter Phase II, where the four groups begin reviewing the Veteran-written interpretations of the ancient Greek works.

The room is huge, but seems small with this many Veterans, Family members, and actors of varying experience crowded inside. Today is the first day the four classes are in the same room, even for just an hour, and the full scope and impact of the Warrior Chorus is suddenly felt. No more is it a small room reading scenes of ancient works: it’s a population being changed for the better through the creation of influenced writing. There is something meaningful happening, and it’s felt around the room.

The warm-up is a much more standard set for a theater company. In the bigger space, it’s body first with relax and stretch, though everyone is back to being a little self conscious, not as “goofy” or comfortable as they’d grown in their families of the small groups. Some with more acting experience seem more willing to mess around than others, and this gradually draws out the shier folks in the room as the different classes interact. They don’t know names, nor is there opportunity to learn, and there isn’t a need for them to bond as this portion of the Chorus is the only time when the classes will interact. Oddly, however, individuals seem to want to connect with new faces anyway. Is this a habit of the Veteran mentality, or theater? Is it some combination of the two drawing the lines of interaction?

Once warmed up, the groups break into their smaller families and relax to discuss their interpreted writings. Dan’s group, focused on the telling of Persians, is still in the writing stages. They are convinced none in the group is an “actor”, that this is “a group of writers” trying to piece it all together. As they talk, the wonders of the Warrior Chorus stand out: no group is the same. Not only is this group concentrating on writing and interpretation and translation unlike Johnny and Jenny’s groups with an acting focus, but this group seems Veteran-heavy. This focuses the conversation much more on the actual war, the reasonableness of war, the humanization and the dehumanization and the re-humanization and the costs of combat. Conversation is personal and passionate, with each understanding of the Persians in Greece and the defeat told in Athens as told by the victor clearly strikes a deep chord in the room when compared to the protracted wars in the Middle East.

Neath’s group is also Veteran-heavy but smaller than the others. They have a lot more written, able to get through a scene reading with more debate on direction and how to compare it back to the Greek play with possession of women through rape and aggression and the prospect of paternal instinct in war. The topics of influences of man-splaining and paternalization, protection and how it will fit with the recent integration of women into combat units, are all modernized, along with power and position, and women attempting to push through as a trend breaker, as a glass breaker. The group being small, discussion seems limited but still animated. The advantage of understanding the rules and regulations in a Veteran-focused group is evident, as time spent in explanation is minimal, and more time can be spent fine-tuning the writing.

Because this is Phase II, everything is now more technical. How do we create tension when we don’t feel it? These are Veterans who understand the tension of battle. But where is the tension, where is the argument, where is the feeling? These are questions often felt and never articulated in battle but always in writing theater. What is winning and how do you know when you’ve won? What do you know between the audience, the world outside of the theater, and what is on the stage? How valuable is the win? Why did we go in the first place for such a small prize?

And now, of course, how do we capture this in a half an hour scene as the Greeks might have done millennia ago?