GAMBIER, Ohio — Theater of War Productions’ yearlong residency with Kenyon College continues with a virtual production of Theater of War Frontline: Knox County on Wednesday, April 7, at 7:30 p.m. EDT. This event, hosted on Zoom, is free and open to the public.
The project will present scenes from Sophocles’ “Philoctetes” in order to frame a healing, constructive discussion centered on the stories and perspectives of frontline and essential personnel in Knox County, Ohio. “Philoctetes” tells the story of a decorated warrior who is abandoned on a deserted island by his own community after contracting a chronic illness on the way to the Trojan War.
The performance will feature Mount Vernon Mayor Matthew T. Starr; Thomas S. Turgeon Professor of Drama Jonathan Tazewell, Kenyon Class of 1984; Maggie Perkins, Kenyon Class of 2020; Megan Evans; Aaron Mooreland; and Lars Hanson, Kenyon Class of 1986. Following the performance, panelists from the Knox County community will offer their immediate responses to the performance, culminating in a guided audience discussion about the unique challenges faced by first responders, nursing home employees, food service professionals, grocery store employees, delivery professionals and other public-facing employees in Knox County during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This story resonates with frontline workers because of the sacrifices they have made in keeping business going through this past year,” Starr said. “At times, it can feel like you’re isolated working under more stress and strain. Our frontline staff in a variety of work settings have been hanging tough, but they have suffered, too.”
Theater of War Productions, co-founded by 1998 Kenyon graduate Bryan Doerries in 2009, is acclaimed for its use of live performances of ancient plays and other seminal texts to foster challenging conversations about social issues, public health and human suffering. It earned recent attention from the Washington Post and the New Yorker for programs it has created to address the traumas of the COVID-19 pandemic. The social impact company recently announced a $1 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to create a Digital Amphitheater, a hybrid physical/digital model of performance and discussion that launches April 27 with a presentation for the Nobel Prize Summit: Our Planet, Our Future.
This is the third performance of Theater of War Productions’ yearlong virtual residency at Kenyon, which opened last fall with a lecture by Doerries and an Oct. 8 performance of “Antigone in Ferguson.” The company presented its “Book of Job Project” in December, and it will present a new project based on Sophocles’ final play, “Oedipus at Colonus,” on May 6 at 7:30 p.m. EDT.
This production is co-sponsored by Theater of War Productions, Kenyon College and the City of Mount Vernon, and it is supported in part by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. To register for this free Zoom event, visit frontlineknox.eventbrite.com.
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ABOUT KENYON COLLEGE: Founded in 1824, Kenyon is the oldest private college in Ohio and the first institution in the U.S. to implement the model of faculty members serving as academic advisors. With a curriculum rooted in the liberal arts, Kenyon students and faculty aspire to a nuanced understanding of the world and all who inhabit it. Kenyon ranks fifth nationally for producing Fulbright Fellows, and second among Division III institutions for fostering NCAA Postgraduate Scholars. Home to the Kenyon Review, one of the nation’s most esteemed literary magazines, Kenyon celebrates a rich literary tradition that promotes writing across academic disciplines. Contact: Mary Keister, Kenyon College Director of Media Relations, email@example.com.
ABOUT THEATER OF WAR PRODUCTIONS: Theater of War Productions works with leading film, theater, and television actors to present dramatic readings of seminal plays—from classical Greek tragedies to modern and contemporary works—followed by town hall-style discussions designed to confront social issues by drawing out raw and personal reactions to themes highlighted in the plays. The guided discussions underscore how the plays resonate with contemporary audiences and invite audience members to share their perspectives and experiences, and, helping to break down stigmas, foster empathy, compassion, and a deeper understanding of complex issues. Over the past decade, Theater of War Productions has facilitated events for more than 300,000 people, presenting 25+ tailored programs targeted to diverse communities across the globe. Contact: Marjolaine Goldsmith, Theater of War Productions Company Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org.
ABOUT THE CITY OF MOUNT VERNON: The City of Mount Vernon is an innovative community with an authentic hometown feel. Home to 17,000 people, Mount Vernon is the county seat for Knox County and boasts historic buildings and districts as well as business and professional, educational, and recreational opportunities through many adaptive reuses of the community’s infrastructure and spaces. Specific attractions are the historic Woodward Opera House, the Knox County Memorial Building and Theater, and the 250-acre Ariel Foundation Park adjacent to the state scenic Kokosing River. With strong ties to higher education, Mount Vernon Nazarene University, Kenyon College and Central Ohio Technical College have satellite locations in the historic downtown. Located 40 miles northeast of Columbus, Mount Vernon is near the geographic center of Ohio and has connections all over the globe. Contact: Tanya Newell, City of Mount Vernon Administrative Assistant/Clerk of Council, 740-393-9517.