Dramatic Reading & Open Dialogue
Presented by Theater of War Productions
New version of Sophocles’ AJAX by Bryan Doerris
Featuring David Zayas in the role of Ajax
What is Theater of War: AJAX?
Theater of War: AJAX is a free, interactive performance of scenes from Sophocles’ Ajax, an ancient play about the visible and invisible wounds caused by violence and war. The event is open to everyone, including veterans and their communities, individuals and communities who have experienced gun violence, students, artists, and concerned citizens. The performance is followed by a powerful audience discussion led by community panelists. This groundbreaking project is designed to promote understanding, compassion, and positive action.
THEATER OF WAR is an innovative public health project that presents readings of Sophocles’ Ajax, an ancient Greek play about the suicide of a great and respected warrior, as a catalyst for facilitated town hall discussions about suicide, combat stress, alcohol and substance abuse, and the impact of war on families. For the past five years, this groundbreaking project has been used to open up powerful dialogue on military installations and communities worldwide.
THE PLAY Sophocles’ Ajax tells the story of a fierce warrior who slips into a depression near the end of The Trojan War, after losing his best friend, Achilles. Feeling betrayed, Ajax attempts to murder his commanding officers, fails, and—ultimately—takes his own life. The play tells the story of the events leading up to Ajax’s suicide, as well as the story of his wife and troops attempt to intervene before it’s too late. The play also depicts the devastating impact of Ajax’s suicide upon his wife, son, brother, troops, and chain of command.
THE DISCUSSION The town hall-style discussion that follows the performance of scenes from Sophocles’ Ajax elicits first-person testimonials and powerful comments from service members of all ranks, with a special focus on the themes of suicide prevision and alcohol and substance abuse awareness. Community panel members who have struggled with and overcome combat stress, suicidal ideation, and alcohol and substance abuse kick off the conversation with their gut reactions to the play, relating the 2,500 year-old story to their own post-deployment experiences. Then, a skilled facilitator asks the audience a series of questions designed to pull out timeless themes from the story of Ajax. The entire event, from beginning to end, lasts a total of 90 minutes.
David Zayas (Ajax) is an accomplished stage, film, and television actor. He is best known for his roles as Angel Batista on Showtime’s Golden Globe-nominated psychological drama, Dexter. David was recently seen as Sal Maroni on the Fox series Gotham, and as Sheriff Aguirre on Netflix’s Bloodline. He currently stars as Eduardo Magana on the Hulu series Shut Eye. Other television credits include the FX series Saint George, New York Undercover, Law & Order, and NYPD Blue. While working on the crime drama The Beat, Zayas met Emmy Award-winning television writer and producer Tom Fontana, who went on to create the role of Enrique Morales, on HBO’s Oz, especially for him. In film, David has starred in The Expendables, Skyline, 13, Michael Clayton, Sixteen Blocks, The Savages, Bringing Out the Dead, The Yards, Undefeated, Wit, Angel, and The Interpreter. He recently starred opposite Helen Hunt in the indie feature Ride, opposite Ellen Page and Allison Janney in the feature Tallulah, and in the film remake of the musical Annie opposite Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz. A former New York police officer, Zayas began his acting career in 1992. He has starred in more than thirty theater productions, including Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train, In Arabia We’d All Be Kings, Our Lady of 121 St., and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Anna in the Tropics on Broadway.
Elise Santora (Tecmessa) is a triple-threat Broadway veteran and a Pregones ensemble member since 2001. Credits include In The Heights, Man of La Mancha, The Capeman, and Adventures of Tom Sawyer. National Companies include Man of La Mancha with John Cullum and A Chorus Line starring Bebe Neuwirth. Toured internationally as a vocalist for such legends as David Bowie, Julio Iglesias and Danny Kaye’s Unicef in Africa tour. She was one of the first Latina dancers on the nationally syndicated program, Soul Train. In addition to extensive commercial/voice-over work, she features in national commercials for Bank of America and Aleve. Elise has served as teaching artist, acting/voice coach and audition coach for such varied venues and participants as Manhattan Theatre Club, Henry Street Settlement Center, Theatre Development Fund, Frank Sinatra H.S., Professional Performing Arts H.S. and York College.
Gabriel Diego Hernández (Chorus) is an actor, voiceover artist, and burlesque performer, and a member of Pregones/PRTT’s acting and music ensemble. Recent NYC stage credits include Cándido Tirado and Vico C’s reggaetón musical La Canción at Repertorio Español, Sara Farrington’s Casablanca Box at HERE Arts Center, and The Desire of The Astronaut at Pregones. Gabriel hails from Hoboken, New Jersey, and holds two degrees from Yale University, where he met his wife Rachel, with whom he writes plays and makes nostalgic ’90s hip hop.
Bryan Doerris (Director) is a Brooklyn-based writer, director, and translator, who currently serves as Artistic Director of Theater of War Productions. A self-described evangelist for classical literature and its relevance to our lives today, Doerries uses age-old approaches to help individuals and communities heal from trauma and loss. Doerries’ book, The Theater of War: What Ancient Greek Tragedies Can Teach Us Today, was published by Knopf in 2015, along with a volume of his translations of ancient Greek tragedies, entitled All That You’ve Seen Here is God. His graphic novel, The Odyssey of Sergeant Jack Brennan, an adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey as told by an infantry Marine to his squad, was published by Pantheon in 2016.
This event is FREE
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Pregones Theater in The Bronx
575 Walton Avenue
Bronx, NY 10451
Located on Walton Avenue between 149th & 150th Streets in The Bronx.