Academy Award Nominee David Strathairn to Lead Free “Theater of War”
Performances at Johns Hopkins on April 12-13
Staged reading of Sophocles plays to catalyze discussion of death, illness, and challenges
faced by patients, families and medical professionals today
Ancient Greeks didn’t go to the theater just to be entertained. Aristotle believed that audiences saw themselves reflected in tragic characters and that the very act of watching a character’s downfall helped purge them of emotions like pity and fear, a process he called catharsis.
Translator and director Bryan Doerries, a self-described evangelist for classical literature and its relevance to our lives today, believed he could use this age-old approach to help individuals and communities heal from trauma and loss. The result was Theater of War productions, which works with leading film, theater, and television actors to present dramatic readings of classical Greek tragedies followed by town hall-style discussions that confront social issues highlighted in the plays.
With a cast including Academy Award-nominated actor David Strathairn and Zach Grenier, Theater of War will come to Johns Hopkins University on April 12-13 for two readings titled “End of Life,” presenting scenes from a pair of Sophocles’ plays to catalyze discussions about death, illness, palliative care, and the challenges faced by patients, families, and medical professionals today. This unique participatory event is intended to promote powerful, open discussions among diverse communities – public and professional – fostering compassion, cooperation, and understanding about living with chronic suffering and the mortality we all share.
Tickets are free but must be reserved in advance.
Friday, April 12, 5-7 p.m.
Johns Hopkins Hospital, Chevy Chase Auditorium
Reserve tickets for Friday, April 12
Saturday, April 13, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Stavros Niarchos Foundation Parkway Theatre
Reserve tickets for Saturday, April 13
“Theater of War Productions is oriented toward addressing issues of social justice and public health through live theater,” Doerries says. “It acts as a catalyst for community-driven discussion about taboo and divisive subjects.”
Over the past 10 years, Theater of War Productions’ 25 different projects have been performed over 900 times in locations across the globe.
Strathairn received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for his portrayal of Edward R. Murrow in Good Night, and Good Luck. He is also recognized for his role in multiple Jason Bourne films, and for playing Secretary of State William Henry Seward in Lincoln. Grenier has appeared in dozens of movies and television series, including Deadwood and The Good Wife. The cast will conduct dramatic readings of scenes from Sophocles’ Women of Trachis and Philoctetes, which address death, dying, and interactions between a suffering soldier and his conflicted caregiver.
The readings become a focal point for guided discussions that underscore the plays’ resonance with contemporary audiences and invite audience members to share their perspectives and experiences, helping to break down stigmas, foster empathy, compassion, and a deeper understanding of complex issues. Theater of War projects are oft-performed on the front lines of the issues they address, such as homeless shelters, addiction clinics, prisons and military bases.
“I always believed there was a wider audience for these ancient stories than the rarified few of us who got to them in college and university,” Doerries says. “It’s not a teaching mission I’m on. It’s about learning from audiences.”