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.
Drawing from an ancient Greek tragedy about a vicious act of violence committed by an angry man with an invincible weapon, this project aims to generate powerful dialogue between concerned citizens, members of the law enforcement community, victims and perpetrators of gun violence, and the general public.
Theater of War Productions and the Museum of Jewish Heritage, in partnership with the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, present readings of scenes Peter Weiss' play The Investigation, a piece of documentary theater adapted from the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trials of 1963-1965. This project centers on guided discussions about mass murder and its lasting impact upon individuals, families, communities, and countries throughout the world. Performed by a diverse cast, including international performers from communities affected by genocide, The Investigation seeks to generate powerful dialogue across cultures and communities about the human capacity for evil, as well as the systems and hierarchies that create the conditions for unthinkable violence.
Caregiving & DeathTheater of War for Frontline Medical Providers
Theater of War for Frontline Medical Providers is an innovative project—developed by Theater of War Productions, the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics and the Johns Hopkins Program in Arts, Humanities & Health—that presents dramatic readings by acclaimed actors of scenes from ancient Greek plays for audiences of frontline medical providers to open up powerful dialogue about difficult subjects, fostering a sense of connection and promoting health-seeking behavior. By presenting ancient plays to doctors, nurses, EMTs, respiratory therapists, and other healthcare providers about emotionally-charged, ethically complex situations, Theater of War Frontline aims to create a brave space for open, candid dialogue and reflection, fostering compassion, a renewed sense of community, and positive action.