If your exposure to classical Greek drama is limited to awkwardly reading decades-old translations aloud in a high school class or perhaps writing a paper on Medea in college, you’d be forgiven for thinking of those ancient scripts as having nothing to offer a modern viewer. Bryan Doerries, the artistic director of Theater of War Productions, hopes to change your mind.
Doerries’s company applies the lessons of ancient mythology to modern-day problems. He argues that Greek tragedies were first performed as a kind of public group therapy, an opportunity for veterans of violent wars and communities in turmoil to voice common concerns. Millennia later, the nuances may be lost but the cultural concerns remain valid to us today: PTSD, addiction, injustice, prejudice, coping with loss.
Generally staged as deeply emotional seated readings, Theater of War shows have featured big-name actors, including Adam Driver, Paul Giamatti, David Strathairn, Frances McDormand, and the gone-too-soon Reg E. Cathey. And lucky for us, it will be presenting more than 60 of these cathartic performances—for free!—in all five boroughs over the next two years.
The next scheduled show is a reading of Sophocles’s Ajax, which explores the legendary Greek warrior’s recovery in the aftermath of war; his intense shame regarding his choices on the battlefield; and the impact this has on his wife, Tecmessa. Performers include Kathryn Erbe (Law & Order: Criminal Intent), Peter Francis James (Oz), and Alex Morf (Daredevil). Following the reading, the actors and military representatives will conduct an intimate talk with the audience about managing combat stress and how soldiers’ families cope with domestic violence and self-violence.
Why You Should Go: These time-tested pieces still pack a wallop in the right hands; no other contemporary company presents Greek tragedy with the level of immediacy and intensity as Theater of War.
Theater of War Productions Presents The Tecmessa Project
The Greene Space
44 Charlton Street (at Varick Street), Tribeca
Wednesday, March 14
Free with online reservation