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Necessary Targets: [a Play] [Paperback]

Eve Ensler
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Price: 10.35 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 Feb 2013
In her first new work since The Vagina Monologues, her Obie Award-winning smash hit, Eve Ensler tells the story of two American women, a Park Avenue psychiatrist and a human rights worker, who go to Bosnia to help women confront their memories of war and emerge deeply changed themselves. Necessary Targets is a groundbreaking play about women and war about the violence of dark memories and the enduring resilience of the human spirit.

Melissa, an ambitious young writer, and J.S., a successful but unsatisfied middle-aged psychiatrist, have nothing in common beyond the methods they have been taught to distance themselves from other people. As J.S. begins to feel compassion for the women whose tragedies she has been sent to expose, she turns on Melissa, who finds safety in control. In an unexpected moment of revelation, J.S. and the women she is supposedly treating find a common ground, a place to be taught and a place to learn.

Necessary Targets has been staged in New York by Meryl Streep, Anjelica Huston, and Calista Flockhart, and performed in Sarajevo with Glenn Close and Marisa Tomei.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Villard Books; 1 edition (1 Feb 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375756035
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375756030
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 13.5 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,117,906 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, engaging, multi-dimensional theatre 22 July 2010
By Pablo
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This brilliant play takes place in a Bosnian refugee camp and features seven female protagonists: an American psychiatrist, an American journalist and five deeply traumatised Bosnian women of various ages. The play concerns (obviously) the Bosnian War and the atrocities committed against women. It also concerns the ongoing trauma suffered by these women and largely forgotten about after the journalistic attractiveness has waned. At the same time it is a deep, wide-ranging and penetrating critique of bourgeois Western values and psychology. And it is moreover a story of redemption and learning from others. The American protagonists' denial of their emotional, instinctual being is superbly and ironically portrayed, allowing Ensler to explore our tendency to shut ourselves off from others and close down our deeper sensitivities instead of empathising with and recognising our common humanity. She also explores the ideology which underpins these mind-sets and its linguistic instruments, using the character of the psychiatrist to expose the cold inhumanity of 'professionalism' and the essential meaninglessness of terms like 'appropriate' and 'responsible'. Ultimately this work questions the would-be epistemic superiority of those who would impose their solutions on others, but it also points towards a way forward which is so much more real, human and fulfilling. An excellently-written, absorbing masterpiece of a play.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.8 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Words can never describe war, but Ensler comes close 11 Mar 2002
By SEP - Published on
My first read left me disappointed because I thought it was a flimsy account of war, but finally Necessary Targets began to grow on me. I think it's ingenious that Ensler tells the story from an American perspective. As an American woman, I've never spent a single day or night in the midst of a warzone--and bombs and shells are a minute portion of what Bosnian women endured. Melissa's distance and J.S.'s transformation make it very clear how removed we Americans can be from the attrocities of war. Ensler is right--we only think about the bombs, bloodshed, and battles. Because the media tends to ignore the drudgeries and aftermaths, we do as well. Maybe I thought at first that this play was missing the noisy, concrete aspects of war. But it's the abstract--the emotional and mental damage--that people need to consider. Ensler brings that aspect of war hauntingly close with this play.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Mother Goddess for A Care-Hungry World 11 Nov 2004
By N E Hetrick - Published on
I was fortunate enough to see this play performed live, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I was already an Eve Ensler fan, having performed myself in a college production of The Vagina Monologues, but I am also a harsh theatre critic, attending 8 or more professional productions a year (for the last 15 years) and often finding them lacking. Neccessary Targets is one of the best plays I have ever had the honor of finding myself engaged in. The characters are female archetypes we are all famillar with, and yet they each have their own unique stories. During the course of the play, they find themselves stomping bravely or furiously down paths they never even supposed were out there, hovering just off the beaten track...leaving the geographically familliar for the foreign, the psycholgically comforting for the disruptive, finding peace in sorrow, and joy in chaos. For anyone wishing to expand their understanding of how women in the global South or women in war-torn nations subsist psychologicaly--this is your play. Eve Ensler is a goddess. In this play, her creations range from an elderly woman who longs for her long-gone beloved cow, to a teenage mother, unwilling to acknowledge the loss of her newborn infant, from an uptight/urban therapist who needs to learn how to feel compassion and forget about wrinkle-free clothes, to a freedom-fighting hiking-boot-wearing all 'round adventurer with an intense insecurity complex. It's a must read and a must see.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Of women and war 11 Nov 2001
By Michael J. Mazza - Published on
Eve Ensler's "Necessary Targets" is a thought-provoking play. In her introduction, Ensler notes that, in 1993, she traveled to the former Yugoslavia in order to interview female war refugees. This play evokes the lives of those displaced women.
The play deals with two American women: Melissa, a writer and trauma counselor, and J.S., a psychiatrist. They travel to Bosnia and hold group sessions with several women, of various ages, who have become refugees as a result of the wall. Their conversations are at times tense, funny, or painful.
"Necessary Targets" is a compelling depiction of a cross-cultural encounter. Throughout the play there was, in my mind, a question: Are Melissa and J.S. helping these women, or merely exploiting them to further their own agendas? Also interesting is Ensler's exploration of perceptions of the U.S. and Americans held by people from other nations.
In her introduction, Ensler notes, "When we think of war, we think of it as something that happens to men in fields or jungles." Thus, this play is a valuable window into the female world of war.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Our mother the war 2 April 2001
By "blissengine" - Published on
I adore Ensler's "The Vagina Monologues", so I looked forward to reading this new work from her. This dark, insistent play is about two American women who travel to Bosnia to help women confront the atrocities they faced and the atrocities they experienced. Ultimately the two Americans find themselves changing in unexpected ways as they face their ill-conceived notions of what it means to be a refugee. It's a powerful work about the endurance of human spirit, about the effects of war on the women who don't fight the war but only clean up afterwards. As much as I like this play and find it important, I was less moved by it overall than moved by the ideas behind the play. And yet, I find it lingering in my periphery as a reminder, which I think is the point.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Eve Ensler for President 9 July 2001
By "auntienub" - Published on
Eve Ensler has struck again & I hope to find more of her stuff soon. Although not as good as "The Vagina Monologues" (a fantastic must-read!), "Necessary Targets" is still a touching story (in play format). Just the sheer joy of knowing that Eve Ensler is out there somewhere made me read this book.
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