Theater of War for Frontline Medical Providers is an innovative project that presents dramatic readings by acclaimed actors of scenes from Sophocles' Philoctetes and Women of Trachis to help nurses, doctors, medical students, first responders, and other heath care providers engage in healing, constructive discussions about the unique challenges and stressors of the COVID-19 pandemic. Using plays by Sophocles to create a vocabulary for discussing themes such as personal risk, death/dying, grief, deviation from standards of care, abandonment, helplessness, and complex ethical decisions, the project aims to foster connection, community, moral resilience, and positive action.
About the plays
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.
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.
Medea timelessly depicts how scorned passion can lead to revenge and, sometimes, unthinkable violence. This project, which premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in June 2016, delves into under-discussed mental health issues that affect women and their families.
War & Mental HealthThe Tecmessa Project
The Tecmessa Project presents readings of Sophocles’s Ajax, an ancient play about the visible and invisible wounds of war, as the catalyst for discussions focusing on the unique challenges faced by military family members, including couples, children, caregivers, and communities. This project is designed to promote understanding, compassion, and positive action.
PandemicThe Oedipus Project
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 world. 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.