In a once-neglected quarry on a slip of a bucolic Lake Erie island, patrons of theatre were treated to the First Annual Greek Revival Festival. “Doves at War,” a newly commissioned piece sponsored by Windsor Feminist Theatre, played out to be a thought-provoking oxymoron rife with elements of traditional Greek theater. Amphitheater? Check. Chorus? Check. Masks? Check. Greek gods? Of course.
Following Greek structure, the piece highlights the genocide and violence against women and children occurring on the Southeast Asian island nation of East Timor. The tiny country had gained independence only to be occupied by Indonesia, infuriating a group of pacifists in England.
The play opens with a single flutist huffing into her instrument, unable to create any melody. We learn from the entrance of the masked chorus that the setting is Wharton, England, 1996. A trial is in session. Women have been arrested and jailed for sabotage, treason, and terrorism, and through a flashback, the audience discovers the alleged crime: demolishing a British plane. (British Aerospace created the planes used for destruction in East Timor.)The protestors, a chorus primarily of women, begin to chant and picket with their signs: “No war in East Timor.” “We sell weapons to mass murders.” They sing Kumbaya and deftly protest the building of a plane “whose only purpose is to kill people.”
The gods, however, have bigger plans and deliver red hammers which the “doves” use to destroy one of the planes. Despite being arrested, the women are declared not guilty as their actions were protected by law since they were trying to save the people of East Timor. The chorus strikes up the familiar 60’s anthem “If I Had a Hammer” as the audience cheers. This time the flutist successfully plays the melody, the chorus dances, and Dionysus arrives with glasses of wine for all, thus ending a striking performance of a lesser-known genocide in the 90’s. With all the elements of a Greek play, “Doves at War” has set the bar high for next summer’s revival piece.