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UC Classics Co-Hosts Program That Helps Veterans Via Ancient Greek Drama


UC's classics department will co-host a presentation of 'The Theater of War' — a critically-acclaimed presentation of Sophocles’ drama Ajax designed to foster discussion about challenges faced by returning veterans — at 7 p.m., on Thursday, Sept. 7, in UC’s Patricia Corbett Theater. The program is free and open to the public.

Date: 8/18/2017 2:00:00 PM
By: Jonathan Goolsby
Other Contact: Lauren Ginsberg
Photos By: Theater of War Productions

UC ingot   The University of Cincinnati’s classics department, part of the College of Arts & Sciences, will co-host a presentation of The Theater of War — a critically-acclaimed presentation of Sophocles’ drama Ajax designed to foster discussion about challenges faced by returning veterans — on Thursday, September 7, 2017, at 7 p.m., in UC’s Patricia Corbett Theater. The program is free and open to the public.

The Theater of War is a nationally recognized public health program, created by Bryan Doerries, that uses ancient drama as a way of addressing the troubles that confront our veteran communities,” said Dr. Lauren Ginsberg, UC Assistant Professor of Classics. “We are very, very proud to be bringing this event to Cincinnati.”

Doerries, a professional translator and theater director, recognized that Sophocles’ version of Ajax’s story held deep parallels for today’s veterans, their loved ones and caregivers.

Ajax the Great was one of the Greek warrior chiefs who, according to Homer’s mythical Iliad, fought at Troy. After his close friend, Achilles, was killed on the field of battle, Sophocles’ Ajax experiences a strong sense of survivor’s guilt.

Denied the honor of receiving the fallen Achilles’ armor, Ajax feels betrayed by the Greek army, slips into a deep depression and unsuccessfully tries to murder his commanding officer, after which he commits suicide. Ajax’s experiences, actions and words closely mirror those of many veterans who have experienced what modern psychiatry defines as combat-induced post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Sophocles was himself an Athenian general in the 5th Century BCE — a time of extended warfare between Athens and its allies, rival Greek city-states, and the Persian Empire. Ajax was likely performed for his troops, Ginsberg noted, and its actors were probably pulled from among the Athenian ranks.

Indeed, some scholars have suggested Sophocles wrote Ajax specifically to help Athenian soldiers process the moral, spiritual and psychological consequences of war, thus allowing them to successfully re-integrate into civilian life.

The Theater of War has toured internationally, including performances at many military bases and college campuses.

Bryan Doerries, David Strathairn and Marjolaine Goldsmith

This first-ever Cincinnati presentation will feature David Strathairn (Eight Men Out; Good Night, and Good Luck) as Ajax and Marjolaine Goldsmith (Compromise, AfterWords). Bryan Doerries will read the Chorus and facilitate the after-performance discussion. The panel will include Dr. Kathleen Chard, Director of the Trauma Recovery Center at the Cincinnati VA Medical Center.

Although the event will be open to the public and no tickets or reservations will be required, seating in the Patricia Corbett Theater is limited, Ginsberg said, so attendees should arrive in a timely manner.

In addition to UC’s Classics Department, co-sponsors of this performance include the Office of the Provost, the Office of the Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, the College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) Harmony Fund: Challenging Hate and Prejudice through Performing Arts, the TAFT Research Center, and the Helen Weinberger Center for the Study of Drama and Playwriting.

Volunteer assistance will be provided by the UC College of Medicine, the Cincinnati VA Medical Center, and CCM’s Department of Acting.

WHAT:    The Theater of War, Co-Hosted by the UC Classics Department
WHEN:    Thursday, September 7, 2017, 7 p.m.
WHERE:     Patricia Corbett Theater, College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati, 45219
COST:    Free and open to the public. No reservations or tickets required.

Seating is limited.

SEE ALSO:   
  http://www.theaterofwar.com
  http://www.outsidethewirellc.com/projects/theater-of-war/overview
  https://www.arts.gov/photos/theater-war

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