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SPECIAL EVENT | Theater of War 

Sadly, Sophocles' "Ajax" holds real, relevant power almost 2,500 years after it was written. During the playwright's lifetime, the Greeks waged war on six fronts, and the works of Sophocles (who was a general himself), along with Aeschylus and Euripides, reflected the tragedy, horror, and spirit-destroying consequences of warfare. It's believed these war tragedies were performed for soldiers as a form of catharsis.

In "Ajax," the titular warrior is distraught over the death of Achilles, his friend, in battle; furious against his commanders; in shame of violence he commits in delusion; and ultimately takes his own life. Meanwhile, his wife and troops try to intervene. In a modern culture that willfully sends people to war and poorly takes care of them when they come home — around 20 veterans in the US commit suicide every day — so much of the emotional turmoil in "Ajax" reads like a reflection of Americans returning from war in Afghanistan.

The Theater of War project, which started in 2008, stages readings of "Ajax" and other Greek tragedies as a way to start dialogue about the human toll of combat, and the impact war has on the rest of a soldier's life. (And hopefully also about the causes of war and our government's rush to wage it.) The project and Veterans Outreach Center will stage a reading of scenes from "Ajax" on Friday, September 22, at Nazareth College Arts Center (4245 East Avenue), 6 p.m. Admission is free. Actors include Melissa Fitzgerald ("The West Wing" and director of Justice for Vets), Zach Grenier ("The Good Wife," "Deadwood"), Kathryn Erbe (pictured) ("Law & Order"), and Bryan Doerries (TOW artistic director). For more information, call VOC at 546-1081, or visit theaterofwar.com.

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