Discussion Explores Today’s Combat Trauma Through Ancient Greek Plays

March 29, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – The trauma endured by soldiers could be called timeless, no matter the location or century of the battle.

Bryan Doerries, founder and director of the Theatre of War project will discuss how ancient the Greek play Philoctetes universally depicts the psychological and physical wounds inflicted upon warriors by war. His talk, “The Philoctetes Project: Combat Trauma in Today’s Wars, Explored in Ancient Greek Theatre” will be from 7-8:30 p.m. Thursday, April 1, in room 103 of Stevenson Hall (210 E. University St., Bloomington) at Illinois Wesleyan University.

The talk, sponsored by the University’s Greek and Roman Studies program, is part of the Ides Lecture and Performance Series and is free and open to the public. A Q&A will follow the talk. Veterans are encouraged to attend.

Since 2008, Theater of War has presented readings of Sophocles' Ajax and Philoctetes to military communities across the United States in hopes of de-stigmatizing psychological trauma and open a dialogue about the challenges faced by service members, veterans and their caregivers and families. The project is funded by a $3.7 million contract with the U.S. Department of Defense.

According to the Doerries, it has been suggested that ancient Greek drama was a form of storytelling, communal therapy, and ritual reintegration for combat veterans by combat veterans. Sophocles himself was a general. The audiences for whom these plays were performed were undoubtedly comprised of citizen-soldiers.

Doerries is a New York-based writer, translator, director and educator. Along with Theatre of War, his other recent theatrical projects include Prometheus in Prison, which presents Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound to corrections professionals to engage them in conversations about custody and re-entry into society, and End of Life, which presents Sophocles’ Women of Trachis to palliative care and hospice workers to engage them in dialogue with other medical professionals about medical ethics and pain management.

For additional information, contact Professor Nancy Sultan with Greek and Roman Studies at (309) 556-3171, or the Theatre of War Web site at www.philoctetesproject.org.

Contact: Rachel Hatch, (309) 556-3960