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Dramatic Reading of Sophocles' Tragedy Philoctetes On March 22

Features Noted Actors Jesse Eisenberg and Michael Stuhlberg; Panel Discussion Follows

Emily Darrow

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—The Classical Studies Program at Bard College presents a dramatic reading of Sophocles’ tragedy Philoctetes, translated and directed by Bryan Doerries, followed by a panel discussion on Saturday, March 22, in LUMA Theater of the Fisher Center. The first in a new series of annual events sponsored by James H. Ottaway Jr., the program is free and open to the public. The reading begins at 2:00 p.m.; the panel discussion at 3:30 p.m.

Sophocles’ Philoctetes, deals with themes of isolation and estrangement, received first prize when it was first performed at the Festival of Dionysus in 409 BCE. The story, takes place during the Trojan War; it focuses on the injured Philoctetes, possessor of the bow of Heracles that was foretold as necessary to win the war against Troy, and the deceptive attempts by Odysseus and Neoptolemus to bring him and the bow with them to Troy. “The title character’s sense of abandonment and search for meaning in his suffering still speaks to us today, perhaps with greater force and urgency than ever before,” according to the Philoctetes Center for the Multidisciplinary Study of the Imagination. “Through modern medicine and warfare, we are creating a vast subclass of chronically ill patients, like Philoctetes, whom we isolate on deserted islands to live long and suffer alone.”

Featured in the reading of Philoctetes are Jesse Eisenberg, who has appeared in the films The Squid and The Whale, Roger Dodger, The Hunting Party, and The Education of Charlie Banks, as well as in Orphans, opposite Al Pacino and Shawn Hatosy, on Broadway; Adam Ludwig, an actor and a member of the Philoctetes Center staff, who has performed at regional theaters throughout the country, including Berkeley Rep, Old Globe, Pittsburgh Public, and A.C.T; and John Schmerling, who has appeared in King Lear, Pericles, Anouilh’s Antigone, The Tempest, Hamlet, and The Brothers Karamazov in off- and off-off-Broadway productions, created the role of Maurice in the original production of Tennessee Williams’s Something Cloudy, Something Clear, and appeared in the reading of Oscar Wilde’s Salome with Al Pacino, Marisa Tomei, and David Strathairn; and Michael Stuhlberg, who has appeared in David Mamet’s new adaptation of The Voysey Inheritance at the Atlantic Theater Company, and on Broadway in The Pillowman, The Invention of Love, Cabaret, Taking Sides, Saint Joan, Timon of Athens.


During the past two years, Bryan Doerries’s translation of Philoctetes has enjoyed staged readings at Anne Bogart’s SITI Company, Culture Project’s Impact Festival, the Philoctetes Center, and Weill Medical College of Medicine of Cornell University. According to, audiences have responded to the play because it resonates with their own experiences.

The panel discussion about the play features Norman Austin, professor emeritus of classics, University of Arizona, and author of Meaning and Being in Myth and Archery at the Dark of the Moon: Poetic Problems in Homer’s Odyssey; Daniel Mendelsohn, Charles Ranlett Flint Professor of Humanities at Bard, author of Gender and the City in Euripides’ Political Plays and The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million; Alice Quinn, executive director of the Poetry Society of America and former poetry editor at the New Yorker; and MacArthur Fellow Jonathan Shay, author of Odysseus in America: Combat Trauma and the Trials of Homecoming and Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character.


For additional information, call 845-758-7900 or visit; or contact James Romm, James H. Ottaway Jr. Professor of Classics at Bard, at 845-758-7282 or

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This event was last updated on 03-23-2008