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Theater of War Productions Sparks Dialogue at Columbia Amidst Protests

Bryan Doerries' Theater of War Productions presents Greek tragedies at Columbia, sparking dialogue amidst Israel-Palestine protests. A reflection on war, loss, and understanding.

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Bijay Laxmi
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Theater of War Productions Sparks Dialogue at Columbia Amidst Protests

Theater of War Productions Sparks Dialogue at Columbia Amidst Protests

At Columbia University's Miller Theatre, Bryan Doerries and his Theater of War Productions presented ancient Greek tragedies to a divided campus, fostering an environment for dialogue amidst ongoing protests over Israel-Palestine. Doerries, alongside actors and students, performed passages from the Iliad and The Trojan Women, followed by a discussion that tackled themes of war, loss, and the quest for understanding in a community riven by conflict.

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Choosing Ancient Texts for Modern Conflicts

Doerries selected specific passages from ancient Greek literature that resonate with contemporary issues of war, grief, and displacement, aiming to reflect the current turmoil within the Columbia campus. The event, strategically placed amidst a backdrop of protests and boycotts, sought to leverage the universality of these ancient stories to prompt reflection and conversation among a polarized audience.

Engagement and Reactions

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The performance, attended by students, faculty, and high-profile members of the university, including President Minouche Shafik, led to a profound discussion on parallels between the ancient texts and today's geopolitical and social issues. Participants, including those identifying with various sides of the Israel-Palestine debate, shared their insights, highlighting the event's success in fostering a space for thoughtful dialogue.

Reflecting on the Impact

Despite the contentious atmosphere on campus, the event managed to bring together a diverse group of individuals, proving the power of art and storytelling in opening channels for understanding and empathy. The departure of President Shafik during the discussion was noted by participants, underscoring the challenges and limitations of institutional engagement in such dialogues. Yet, the overall tone remained hopeful, with attendees and performers alike reflecting on the importance of continuing these conversations.

The event's success lies not in providing solutions, but in its ability to stir thought, empathy, and a willingness to listen among those who might otherwise remain divided. Theater of War Productions demonstrated the enduring relevance of ancient texts in illuminating contemporary struggles, suggesting that the path to resolution might begin with shared stories and reflections.

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