Premiere of “The Oedipus at Colonus Project” Produced in Collaboration with Community

The conclusion of Theater of War’s virtual residency with Kenyon uses scenes from Sophocles’ final play as a catalyst for discussions about homelessness, immigration and eldercare.

By David Hoyt

GAMBIER, Ohio — Theater of War Productions’ yearlong residency with Kenyon College concludes with a world premiere: a virtual presentation of “The Oedipus at Colonus Project” on Thursday, May 6, at 7:30 p.m. EDT. This event, produced in collaboration with the Knox County, Ohio, community and hosted on Zoom.

“The Oedipus at Colonus Project” presents dramatic readings of scenes from Sophocles’ final play, “Oedipus at Colonus,” as a catalyst for powerful, community-driven conversations about homelessness, the immigration and refugee crisis, and the challenges of eldercare during and after the pandemic.

The production will feature performances by Matthew T. Starr (Mayor of the City of Mount Vernon, Ohio), Jonathan Tazewell (the Thomas S. Turgeon Professor of Drama and a 1984 graduate of Kenyon), Lars Hanson (Kenyon Class of 1986), Frankie Faison (“The Wire”), Bill Camp (“The Night Of”), Taylor Schilling (“Orange is the New Black”), Marjolaine Goldsmith (“Dress”), David Strathairn (“Good Night, and Good Luck”) and David Denman (“The Office”). The production is translated, directed and facilitated by Artistic Director of Theater of War Productions Bryan Doerries, a 1998 graduate of Kenyon. After the actors read the play, four community panelists will kick off the discussion with their reactions. Doerries will then open the conversation to the audience.

Theater of War Productions, co-founded by 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 launched April 27 with a presentation for the Nobel Prize Summit: Our Planet, Our Future.

“It has been an honor to collaborate with Kenyon students, faculty, staff and members of the Knox County community this year,” said Doerries. “We are proud to be wrapping up our virtual residency with the premiere of an entirely new project that we believe will speak to the struggles of people, not just in Knox County, but all over the world, especially during the pandemic. By performing scenes from Sophocles’ ‘Oedipus at Colonus,’ we hope to create a brave and open space where the insights and perspectives of the less fortunate can be heard and received.”

This is the fourth and final 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 an edition of “Theater of War Frontline” focused on Knox County on April 7, featuring local actors in scenes from Sophocles’ “Philoctetes.”

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.

The event Zoom link will be distributed and available to registered attendees starting two days prior to the event. Closed captioning is available for all attendees. To register, visit 


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: David Hoyt, Kenyon College Digital Content Editor,

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,, voicemail: 646-389-1211. 

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.