(Randich’s article appeared 9/1.)
“Acts of War: Iraq and Afghanistan in Seven Plays”
A book edited by Karen Malpede, Michael Messina and Bob Shuman
“War is neither glorious nor noble,” Chris Hedges states in his trenchant foreword to “Acts of War: Iraq and Afghanistan in Seven Plays,” a powerful new collection of American and British plays. War marks those who battle, those who stay home and those caught in the crossfire in ways we can barely articulate. Given the cultural, political and religious taboos against discussing the actual human cost of warfare, Karen Malpede, Michael Messina and Bob Shuman, in editing this anthology, have made a vigorous contribution to the political and ethical debate.
These plays step into the moral vacuum left by politicians, corporations and religious leaders, and reveal war as something other than an unequivocal victory. They explore how theater can intervene in the discourse of war, rather than let it be hijacked by politicians, warmongers, war profiteers and others. They raise the necessary question: What are the responsibilities of civilians during wartime? Hedges opines that war is always about betrayal: “of the young by the old, of idealists by cynics, and of solders and Marines by politicians.” In these plays, we hear the voices of the betrayers and the betrayed. We are even startled to discover those voices dueling within one individual’s own private hell.