Theater of War for Frontline is an innovative project that presents dramatic readings by acclaimed actors of scenes from ancient Greek plays to help nurses, doctors, first responders, and other health care professionals, along with concerned citizens and those impacted by COVID-19, engage in healing, constructive discussions about the unique challenges and stressors of the COVID-19 pandemic. Using Sophocles' Philoctetes and Women of Trachis 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, Theater of War Frontline aims to foster connection, community, moral resilience, and positive action.
This event is hosted by UCSF Health, and Stanford School of Medicine: Medical Humanities and the Arts Program (Medicine & the Muse). We are proud to open this event up to public, to bring the broader community impacted by COVID-19 and concerned citizens into dialogue with frontline medical professionals.
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.
Caregiving & DeathEnd of Life
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.
Racism & Social JusticeMothers of The Movement
A conversation with Gwen Carr—mother of Eric Garner, author of This Stops Today—and Valerie Bell—mother of Sean Bell, author of Just 23—about their tireless work as Mothers of the Movement to end police violence.
Consent & Sexual ViolenceTape
Tape has been developed as a sexual assault awareness and prevention training program that uses dramatic readings of Stephen Belber’s 1999 play to ignite powerful discussions about consent, sexual assault, rape, and power dynamics.