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War, Drama and Continuity

Ancient Greeks/Modern Lives gives old plays new meaning

September 5, 2011 | By Public Programs Staff

A project called Ancient Greeks/Modern Lives: Poetry-Drama-Dialogue delivers staged readings of key scenes from Homer’s Odyssey and selected classical plays, town-hall discussions in theaters, scholar-led reading and discussion groups in libraries, and public master classes in ancient Greek stagecraft to 100 sites across the nation.

The program is the creation of the Aquila Theatre Company Inc., based at New York University’s Center for Ancient Studies, produced with NEH support, and in partnership with the Urban Libraries Council and the American Philological Society. Ancient Greeks/Modern Lives, with assistance from the Philoctetes Project/Theater of War, emphasizes outreach to military veterans and their families. Those audiences often find that some of their war-related trauma can find cathartic release in discussions led by carefully trained facilitators about the stresses of post-war alienation articulated by the military characters in classical Greek drama—stresses remarkably similar to contemporary experiences. The enjoyment and practical benefits of relating ancient stories to modern lives are carried to an even wider audience by this project’s extensive website.