Monday, January 19, 2015

The Philoctetes Project

Freshly back from Antarctica, Arline points us to Wikipedia's article about Sophocles' Philoctetes. Besides offering a helpful summary of its backstory, the piece speaks of the "Philoctetes Project":

The story of Philoctetes, dealing with the wounded man and the interwoven relationships with others, has been frequently noted. In 2005 Bryan Doerries, writer and director, began a series of readings of the play in the New York city area. Noting the reactions of the audience to the reading, especially related to the reactions of audience members to the interaction of the suffering soldier and the conflicted caregiver, he and others started the Philoctetes Project.[4] The project revolves around presenting such readings, especially to audiences of medical professionals and students. 
A number of readings were followed by a panel discussion about doctor-patient relationships, involving presenters in psychiatry, physicians, and military medical personnel[5] among others. 
The concept has also been extended to training of medical students, such as a presentation also in 2007 to the first year medical class at Weill Medical College of Cornell University,[6] involving not only the students, but also faculty members. The presentation included a discussion of an actual case dealing with the patient-caregiver interactions that parallel the situation that Sophocles presented. 
In 2008, at a conference dedicated to finding new ways to help US Marines recover from post-traumatic stress and other disorders after serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, four New York actors presented a dramatic reading from Philoctetes and Ajax. The plays focussed on physical and psychological wounds inflicted on the warrior.[7]

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