Innovative drama group Theater of War to engage in yearlong virtual residency at Kenyon College

The company, known for addressing urgent societal issues, will stage performances, facilitate dialogue and mount a new production.

By Mary Keister
Date

GAMBIER, Ohio — Theater of War Productions, co-founded in 2009 by 1998 Kenyon graduate Bryan Doerries and acclaimed for its stirring use of theater to foster dialogue about pressing social and public health issues, will be in residence, virtually, for the 2020–21 academic year. The company works with leading film, theater and television actors to present dramatic readings of seminal plays — from classical Greek tragedies to contemporary works — followed by town-hall discussions designed to address trauma in a community, whether it be from natural disaster, racialized police violence, mental or public health crisis, or other social concern. The Kenyon residency includes two virtual performances each semester, as well as a series of master classes for students and faculty.

“Since its founding, Theater of War has used classic texts to confront present-day tragedy, and their work, rooted in the liberal arts, is more relevant than ever,” said Kenyon College President Sean Decatur. “I am excited about the ways in which these programs will bring people together around difficult and pressing concerns, at a time when physical distance makes meaningful dialogue harder.”

The residency includes a mix of Kenyon-specific programs, available to students, staff, faculty, alumni and Knox County residents. It also includes some performances open to other Ohio colleges. The fall lineup features: 

In the spring, Theater of War Productions will stage a third production from their existing catalog as well as mount a new program designed for and with the Kenyon College community.

“Theater of War Productions is delighted to be partnering with Kenyon students, faculty, staff and alumni, as well as the greater Knox County community, to help frame crucial conversations about some of the most challenging issues of our time,” said Doerries. “Also, it’s a special thrill for me, as a Kenyon alumnus and former classics major, to return to Gambier in this way.”

The Theater of War residency connects to a broader programming theme for the academic year, loosely framed as “Learn, Unlearn and Relearn.” This theme, proposed by one of the College’s COVID-19 working groups, was introduced in President Decatur’s opening convocation remarks.

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Theater of War Productions provides a framework to engage communities in challenging dialogues about human suffering. Since its founding in 2009, the company has facilitated events for over 100,000 people, presenting 22 different tailored programs targeted to diverse communities across the globe. Theater of War Productions was co-founded by Bryan Doerries and Phyllis Kaufman, and Doerries currently serves as the company’s artistic director.