Skip to Content

About the project

Screen Shot 2020 05 08 at 1 02 48 PM

The Oedipus Project

Dramatic Reading of Oedipus the King, by Sophocles

Translated, Directed, and Facilitated Bryan Doerries

The Oedipus Project presents acclaimed actors reading scenes from Sophocles’ Oedipus the King as a catalyst for powerful, constructive, global conversations about the climate crisis, ecological disaster, environmental justice, and healing online conversations about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic upon diverse communities throughout the world. Sophocles’ ancient play, first performed in 429 BC, just after the first wave of a plague that killed nearly one-third of the Athenian population, is a story of arrogant leadership, ignored prophecy, intergenerational curses, and a pestilence and ecological collapse that ravages the archaic city of Thebes. Seen through this lens, Oedipus the King appears to have been a powerful tool for helping Athenians communalize trauma and loss, while interrogating their own complicit role in the suffering, not just of those around them but of generations to come.

There are people
suffering out there,
dying from the hateful
plague, and this
is what you choose
to do with your time?
Jocasta, Sophocles' Oedipus The King
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, Oscar Isaac, Frances McDormand, and David Strathairn The Oedipus Project 5.7.20

About the play

  • Oedipus the King by Sophocles

    Sophocles’ Oedipus the King tells the story of an overconfident ruler during the time of a great plague, who refuses to listen to trusted advisors, ignores prophecy, and—after launching an investigation—discovers that he is the source of the contagion that is ravaging his people and his land. Upon uncovering the truth about himself and his role in the disaster, the king loses nearly everything—his crown, his wife, his power, his country, his honor—and wanders off into exile, a fate worse than death in ancient Greece. Oedipus the King is a timeless story about leadership, accountability, and the challenges faced by citizens and elected officials during pandemics and plagues.

Oedipus Project Highlights

1 / 20
The Oedipus Project

The Oedipus Project: Climate Crisis

2021

Watch the Oedipus Project: Climate Crisis trailer.

The Oedipus Project presents acclaimed actors reading scenes from Sophocles’ Oedipus the King on Zoom as a catalyst for powerful, constructive, global conversations about climate change, ecological disaster, and environmental justice. Sophocles’ ancient play, first performed in 429 BC, just after a plague that killed nearly one-third of the Athenian population, is a story of arrogant leadership, ignored prophecy, intergenerational curses, willful blindness, and a pestilence and ecological collapse that ravages the archaic city of Thebes. Seen through this lens, Oedipus the King appears to have been a powerful tool for helping Athenians communalize trauma and loss, while interrogating their own complicit role in the suffering, not just of those around them but of generations to come.

This event was presented as part of the Nobel Prize Summit: Our Planet, Our Future, hosted by the Nobel Foundation and organized by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in partnership with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research/Stockholm Resilience Centre/Beijer Institute. Thousands of audience members tuned in from 82 countries to participate in a global discussion.

This event featured performances by Bill Murray (Lost in Translation), Corey Hawkins (Straigt Outta Compton), Frances McDormand (Nomadland), Jeffrey Wright (Westworld), Frankie Faison (The Wire), David Strathairn (Good Night, and Good Luck), Marjolaine Goldsmith (Company Manager of Theater of War Productions), and Jumaane Williams (New York City Public Advocate), and a Chorus of Nobel Prize-winning scientists, including Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn and Dr. Harold Varmus.

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams Oscar Isaac Frances Mc Dormand and David Strathairn The Oedipus Project 5 7 20
The Oedipus Project

Can Greek Tragedy Get Us Through The Pandemic

The New Yorker / 2020

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, Oscar Isaac, Frances McDormand, and David Strathairn in The Oedipus Project premiere on 5/7/20. Read the profile in The New Yorker by Elif Batuman on Theater of War Productions and The Oedipus Project Premiere.

The Oedipus Project

Frances McDormand Plays Jocasta

on Zoom / 2021

Watch the trailer for The Oedipus Project at the Nobel Prize Summit: Our Planet, Our Future.

The Oedipus Project

Jeffrey Wright plays the blind prophet Tiresias

on Zoom / 2021

Watch the trailer for The Oedipus Project at the Nobel Prize Summit: Our Planet, Our Future.

The Oedipus Project

The Oedipus Project Trailer

2020

Screen Shot 2020 05 08 at 1 02 48 PM
The Oedipus Project

Actors and activists bring 'Oedipus' to Zoom in healing performance

CNN.com / 2020

Screen Shot 2020 05 15 at 2 39 54 PM
The Oedipus Project

The Oedipus Project Premiere

Zoom / 2020

Marjolaine Goldsmith, playing the Priest, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams playing the Chorus, Oscar Isaac playing Oedipus, and John Turturro playing Creon. Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and theater director Bryan Doerries reflect on The Oedipus Project and the arts in the current COVID-19 climate. Read the article in The Brooklyn Rail.

Screen Shot 2020 05 17 at 11 47 07 AM
The Oedipus Project

The Oedipus Project Premiere Discussion

Zoom / 2020

Bryan Doerries facilitates the discussions with panelists:

Paulette Soltani, Political Director, VOCAL-NY is recognized for her work across New York City in affordable housing and homelessness. She has been an outspoken critic of the way homeless individuals are treated - or not - and most recently how vulnerable they are during this pandemic. VOCAL-NY is a statewide membership organization that focuses on low-income people affected by various social ills.

Jo-Ann Yoo, Executive Director of the Asian-American Federation. The organization was established in 1989 and represents a network of community service agencies including health and human services, education and economic development. Jo-Ann has been outspoken about discrimination faced by the Asian American community in the face of COVID 19. As you know the Asian American community (here in NY) have some of the lowest infection and death rates from the disease. Jo-Ann has been appointed to the State task force on re-opening New York.

Dr. Robert Gore, has been treating COVID-19 patients as an emergency room attending physician at NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County and SUNY Downstate Medical Center (where he is also a faculty member). He is the founder of the Kings Against Violence Initiative (KAVI) which earned him recognition as a CNN Hero, entry into the Presidential Leadership Scholars Program, and other awards. He founded the SUNY Downstate Medical Center Minority Medical Student Emergency Medicine (MMSEM) Summer Fellowship - a mentoring program for underrepresented minorities in medicine. He has also worked in disaster zones in Haiti. Dr Gore was raised in Brooklyn, he and his wife reside in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of the borough.

Anthony Almojera, Vice President of the EMS Officers Union. 42 years old and Born and raised in Brooklyn New York. Have lived Montana and California in early 20s and traveled to 90 countries. Majored in theatre and political science in Brooklyn college. A NYC paramedic working with FDNY EMS since 2004 and currently a lieutenant with EMS and work out of EMS station 40 in sunset park Brooklyn.

Audience members Frernanda, Hui Li.

Screen Shot 2020 06 06 at 5 10 08 PM
The Oedipus Project

The Oedipus Project Premiere

Zoom / 2020

Frances McDormand plays Jocasta

Screen Shot 2020 06 06 at 5 08 04 PM
The Oedipus Project

The Oedipus Project Premiere

Zoom / 2020

Jeffrey Wright plays Tiresias

Screen Shot 2020 06 06 at 5 20 58 PM
The Oedipus Project

The Oedipus Project Premiere

Zoom / 2020

Frankie Faison plays the Shepherd

Screen Shot 2020 06 06 at 5 19 48 PM
The Oedipus Project

The Oedipus Project Premiere

Zoom / 2020

David Strathairn plays Messenger 1

Screen Shot 2020 06 06 at 5 21 16 PM
The Oedipus Project

The Oedipus Project Premiere

Zoom / 2020

Glenn Davis plays Messenger 2

Screen Shot 2020 06 06 at 5 19 44 PM
The Oedipus Project

The Oedipus Project Premiere

Zoom / 2020

Oscar Isaac plays Oedipus

Screen Shot 2020 09 04 at 12 51 17 PM
The Oedipus Project

Nyasha Hatendi, Marjolaine Goldsmith, and Damian Lewis in The Oedipus Project

on Zoom / 2020

Nyasha Hatendi plays the Chorus, Damian Lewis plays Oedipus, and Marjolaine Goldsmith plays Tiresias in The Oeidpus Project for an international audience spanning 46 countries.

Screen Shot 2020 09 04 at 1 05 07 PM
The Oedipus Project

Nyasha Hatendi, Damian Lewis, Nick Holder and Brían F. O'Byrne in The Oedipus Project

on Zoom / 2020

Nyasha Hatendi plays the Chorus, Damian Lewis plays Oedipus, Nick Holder plays the Messenger, and Brían F. O'Byrne plays the Shepherd in The Oeidpus Project for an international audience spanning 46 countries.

Damian Lewis in The Oeidpus Project
The Oedipus Project

Damian Lewis in The Oeidpus Project

On Zoom / 2020

Screen Shot 2020 09 04 at 1 03 32 PM
The Oedipus Project

Nyasha Hatendi, Damian Lewis, Jason Isaacs and Lesley Sharp in The Oedipus Project

Nyasha Hatendi plays the Chorus, Damian Lewis plays Oedipus, Jason Isaacs plays Creon, and Lesley Sharp plays Jocasta in The Oeidpus Project for an international audience spanning 46 countries.

Damian Lewis plays Oedipus
The Oedipus Project

Damian Lewis plays Oedipus

on Zoom / 2020

Screen Shot 2020 09 04 at 1 06 11 PM
The Oedipus Project

Nyasha Hatendi, Damian Lewis, Nick Holder Brían F. O'Byrne, and Kathryn Hunter in The Oedipus Project

On Zoom / 2020

Nyasha Hatendi plays the Chorus, Damian Lewis plays Oedipus, Nick Holder plays the Messenger, Brían F. O'Byrne plays the Shepherd and Cathryn Hunter plays The Priest, in The Oeidpus Project for an international audience spanning 46 countries.

Back to Top