David Byrne | June 2017: By military theater I’m not talking about the elaborate musical theater shows that were commissioned by the U.S. military during WWII.
These shows were called Blueprint Specials—I saw excerpts that were restaged recently at the Intrepid Museum. Topflight Broadway talent was recruited to create “blueprints” for shows that any remote base could produce and stage. DIY musicals. The music, the script and the choreography were sent out as packages. Sets were simple and the costumes were the soldiers’ existing uniforms.
I’m also not talking about the use of the word theater as reference to an area of conflict and geographic operations—the North African Theater or the Pacific Theater in WWII for example—though the use of the word in that context might be unintentionally and oddly revealing.
I’m thinking about the idea that much military action is not done to achieve its stated purpose, but is rather, in effect, a show, staged for an audience. That audience might be us, the country on whose behalf the military has presumably acted, but the intended audience might also be a foreign country…
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