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Poetry and Post-Trauma in Not About Heroes

A still from Not About Heroes.
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Bright Eyes Productions pensive staging of Stephan MacDonald’s Not About Heroes is an epigraphic presentation of the friendship and poetry of British World War I poets Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon. As promised by its title, the play is indeed “not about heroes,” although its scenes do occur within the context of contemplated heroism. This drama presents several tough-to-tackle themes including collective memory; the art and craft of writing; adoration; the human cost of war; and the bonds that exist between soldiers.

The detail-oriented nature of William Hemmer’s direction becomes immediately evident during the first moments of the play as black-and-white photographs echo images of war casualties and aged institutions behind the active scene elements. Hemmer uses a humble stage as a conduit for all space and time, appointing the audience to the lost time-traveler role. Hemmer summons a ghost to solemnly contemplate a multifaceted paradox -- poetry that still kicks and breathes relevancy while the poet remains long dead and a victim of that which inspired his words.