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What is it about ancient Greek plays that makes them resonate all these centuries later?

What if our experience of ancient Greek plays, rather than involving stultifying boredom, could instead evoke powerful emotions? Bryan Doerries–author of many books involving ancient Greek plays and Artistic Director of Theater of War Productions–talks with Julie and Eve about the tragic loss in his life that caused Greek plays to suddenly begin “sp[eaking] directly to me as if they've been written for me.” As a director, he has since sought “audience[s] that have experienced the extremities of life.” He’s performed at hospitals, for the military, in prisons, for addicts, and for the survivors of natural disasters. Bryan discusses what it is about ancient Greek plays that makes them resonate all these centuries later. He also details why the audience discussions that follow the play can be more meaningful than the performances themselves. Finally, Bryan explains how the protocols of theatergoing today are a “kind of violence.”

Bryan Doerries is a writer, director, and translator. His theater company presents dramatic readings of seminal plays and texts to frame community conversations about pressing issues of public health and social justice. He has received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Kenyon College. And he was named Public Artist in Residence for the city of New York. Bryan’s most recent book, which offers a contemporary translation of ancient Greek tragedies, is Oedipus Trilogy: New Versions of Sophocles' Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, and Antigone.

All That You've Seen Here is God

Bryan Doerries’ translations of Greek tragedy in All That You’ve Seen Here Is God seriously engage both with four Greek originals by Aeschylus and Sophocles and with his own experience in performing the plays for disparate audiences who have undergone tragic suffering in person. His spare, contemporary yet poetic lines jump from the page to serve an intense delivery that invites his audience to post-play dialogue. —Helene P. Foley, Professor of Classics, Barnard College, Columbia University

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