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 historically important 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.
The plays included in this collection: Guantanamo: “Honor Bound to Defend Freedom” by Victoria Brittain and Gillian Slovo; American Tet by Lydia Stryk; The Vertical Hour by David Hare; Prophecy by Karen Malpede; 9 Circles by Bill Cain; No Such Cold Thing by Naomi Wallace; and A Canopy of Stars by Simon Stephens.
View Acts of War on Amazon.