Jason Isaacs Performs Greek Tragedy for Veterans
Jason Isaacs (known better to most of us as Lucius Malfoy!) has joined the Theater of War Project, which presents readings of the Greek tragedies Ajax and Philoctetes in the United States and Europe. The aim of the project, as stated on their website, is as follows:
By presenting these plays to military and civilian audiences, our hope is to de-stigmatize psychological injury, increase awareness of post-deployment psychological health issues, disseminate information regarding available resources, and foster greater family, community, and troop resilience. Using Sophocles’ plays to forge a common vocabulary for openly discussing the impact of war on individuals, families, and communities, these events will be aimed at generating compassion and understanding between diverse audiences.
Isaacs, who took part in a reading of Ajax earlier this week in London and is set to perform additional readings in Edinburgh, was at first skeptical of the play’s power to connect with contemporary audiences.
I thought the British Armed Forces would be reticent; I couldn’t see them unburdening themselves like the Americans. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I wasn’t sure it could work the way I had been told it would work. To witness it is something extraordinary.
It reminded me of the power of storytelling and why I got into acting. Something written 2,500 years ago can be so contemporary and speak the language of the soldiers in front of you – it was a real shock. People didn’t just connect with it; they felt it was written about them.
Ajax, written by Sophocles in the fifth century BC, tells the story of the eponymous Greek hero’s anger after the armor of Achilles was awarded to Odysseus, rather than himself. Ajax flies into a murderous rage, setting off a series of events that culminates in his suicide.
Bryan Doerries, the classicist who created the project, believed that modern soldiers would find Ajax’s story meaningful.
I had a conviction that these ancient plays could speak to a wider audience. I read stories of veterans returning home with invisible wounds, and they could have been ripped from the pages of Sophocles.
We’re sure that Isaacs’s performance, along with that of the other actors who take part, will be a powerful one that helps spark discussion about these important issues with the audience. You can read the original article here.