About the project
End of Life presents readings of ancient Greek plays in public settings and medical communities as a catalyst for facilitated discussions about challenges faced by patients, families, and health professionals today around end of life care. This unique, participatory event is intended to promote powerful, open discussion among diverse communities - public and professional - fostering compassion, cooperation, and understanding about living with chronic suffering and the mortality we all share.
About the plays
Women of Trachis by Sophocles
Sophocles’ Women of Trachis, tells the story of Heracles—the strongest of all Greek heroes—who has been unintentionally poisoned by his wife, Deineira, after she discovers that he has fallen in love with a younger woman. In an attempt to win back her husband’s affection mistakes a lethal toxin, which was given to her by a dying centaur years ago for a love potion. Deineira sends him a robe dipped in the liquid. When Heracles puts on the robe it immediately eats through his skin, muscle tissue, down through his bones to the marrow. Heracles falls to the ground, clutching his sides, crying out in pain, calling for his teenage son, Hyllus, to come to his aid and to help him put an end to the seemingly endless waves of pain.
Philoctetes by Sophocles
Sophocles’ Philoctetes tells the story of decorated warrior who is abandoned on a deserted island because of mysterious chronic illness that he contracts on the way to the Trojan War. Nine years later, the Greeks learn from an oracle that in order to win the war they must rescue him from island. When they finally come for him, the wounded warrior must overcome nine long years of festering resentment and shame in order to accept help from the very men who betrayed him.
End of Life Highlights
Charles S. Dutton as Hercules in Women of Trachis
Harvard Medical School / 2010
CorrectionsPrometheus in Prison
Prometheus in Prison is an innovative public health project that presents readings of Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound, an ancient Greek play about god who is imprisoned for stealing fire and giving it to humans, as a catalyst for powerful discussions about the challenges faced by individuals, families, and communities whose lives have been touched by the criminal justice system. For the past decade years, this groundbreaking project has been used to open up healing dialogue in a variety of settings, including prisons, detention centers, and public venues throughout the country and the world.
Caregiving & DeathKing Lear Project
The King Lear Project presents streamlined readings of scenes from Shakespeare’s King Lear to engage diverse audiences, including the elderly, their families, and caregivers, in open, healing, constructive discussions about the challenges of aging, dementia, and caring for senior citizens.
Political ViolenceActs of Violence
Acts of Violence presents scenes from Seneca's Thyestes, a Roman tragedy that was written during the gruesome reign of Nero, as a catalyst for town hall discussions about the impact of political violence upon individuals, families, caregivers, health and human rights advocates, communities, and nations.