The Oedipus Project is an innovative new digital initiative by Theater of War Productions that will present acclaimed actors performing scenes from Sophocles’ Oedipus the King as a catalyst for powerful, healing online conversations about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic upon diverse communities throughout the United States. Sophocles’ ancient play, written and performed in 429 BC during the time of a plague that killed one-third of the Athenian population, is a timeless story of arrogant leadership, ignored prophecy, and a pestilence that ravages the city of Thebes. At the time the play was first performed, the audience would have been reeling in the wake of a pestilence and its economic, political, and social aftermath. Seen through this lens Oedipus the King appears to have been a powerful public health tool for helping Athenians communalize the trauma of the plague, through a story that is as relevant now as it was in its own time.
Featuring performances by Frances McDormand, Oscar Isaac, Jeffrey Wright, John Turturro, Frankie Faison, David Strathairn, and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.
TRANSLATED, DIRECTED and FACILITATED BY BRYAN DOERRIES
Presented by Theater of War Productions, New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, and Brooklyn Public Library.
Registered audience members will receive a Zoom link prior to the event. This is a premiere zoom event for Theater of War Productions. We are convening our events online and our format remains as close to our live events as possible:
- The actors will read the play.
- Four community panelists will kick off the discussion with their gut responses to what resonated with them across time
- We will open the discussion to the audience, facilitated by Bryan Doerries. During the discussion, please raise your hand using the button at the bottom center of the screen. If called upon, you will be promoted to speak and you will be visible and heard by the entire audience for the duration of your comments. If you would prefer not to be seen, please disable your video when entering the event.
To experience this event:
Please download Zoom to your laptop or mobile device https://zoom.us/download
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.
Racism & Social JusticeFrederick Douglass
Frederick Douglass is a project that presents dramatic readings of Douglass' speeches by professional actors as a catalyst for powerful dialogue about racism, inequality, civil rights, education, and the legal system with the objective of fostering compassion, understanding, and positive action.
Natural DisasterThe Tohoku Project
The Tohoku Project: Sumidagawa presents powerful dramatic readings by professional actors of Sumidagawa, a Noh play from the early 15th Century that timelessly depicts the unique challenges faced by parents in the wake of unimaginable disaster. Each reading is followed by the responses of community panelists, culminating in a lively, facilitated audience discussion. This interactive event promotes healthy, constructive dialogue about the lasting impact of the Tohoku disaster upon individuals, families, and communities—fostering compassion, understanding, awareness, and positive action.
Addiction & Substance AbuseThe Dionysus Project
The Dionysus Project is an innovative public health project that presents readings of scenes from Euripides' Bacchae, an ancient Greek play about the destructive power of intoxication, as a catalyst for town hall discussions about the impact of substance abuse and addiction upon individuals, families, and communities. The project uses an ancient Greek tragedy, written nearly 2500 years ago, to engage audiences in crucial discussions about the timelessness of the human struggle with substance abuse and addiction, as well as resources and solutions that communities can utilize today.