Skip to contentSkip to site navigation


Acclaimed Theater of War project will engage civilians, military personnel, and veterans through Sophocles tragedy, November 3, 2013, at the Chapel

Through its  project, Theater of War the social impact theater company Outside the Wire has presented hundreds of dramatic readings of the Sophocles tragedy Ajax to mixed military and civilian audiences across the United States, Europe and Japan. These productions combine performances by top actors with panel discussions and audience conversations to explore the social and psychological issues critical to people transitioning from military to civilian life.  Vassar College will host a Theater of War program free to the public on Sunday, November 3, 4:00-6:00 pm in the campus Vassar Chapel. Advance tickets are not required, and seating is on a first-come first-served basis.

The dramatic reading of Ajax will be followed by a panel discussion including two veterans, a military family member, and a clinical psychologist -- all of whom are from the local area. A facilitated town-hall style audience discussion will conclude the program. The Ajax Greek tragedy serves as a centerpiece because it timelessly and universally depicts the visible and invisible wounds of war. By presenting this play to mixed military and civilian audiences, the hope is to de-stigmatize psychological injury, increase awareness of post-deployment psychological health issues, disseminate information regarding available resources, and foster compassion and understanding.  To date, there have been over 225 Theater of War performances attended by over 50,000 military service members, veterans, and their families.

This Theater of War performance will feature stage and screen actors Louis Cancelmi (Blasted, Hallway Trilogy, Philoktetes), Heidi Schreck (Circle Mirror Transformation, The Good Wife, Language Archive, Drum of the Waves of Horikawa), and Bryan Doerries, the founder and artistic director of the Outside the Wire company and its Theater of War project. Vassar students Sean Keller and Michael Moore will round out the cast. Doerries also translated Ajax for this usage, he directs the productions, and he will facilitate the panel and audience discussions, with Phyllis Kaufman producing.

Panelist Lorinda Arella is a clinical psychologist based in nearby LaGrangeville who specializes in complex trauma, families, conflict resolution, and community networking. Arella also founded and heads the Veteran Family Support Alliance, which serves Dutchess, Orange, and Ulster counties.

Support for this Theater of War program at Vassar College is provided by the offices of the President, Dean of the Faculty, and Dean of the College, the departments of Greek and Roman Studies, Drama, English, History, Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology, the program in American Studies, and the program in Neuroscience and Behavior.

About Outside the Wire

Outside the Wire uses theater and a variety of other media to address pressing public health and social issues, such as combat-related psychological injury, end of life care, prison reform, political violence and torture, and the de-stigmatization of the treatment of substance abuse and addiction. Visit the Outside the Wire website for more information, to view a short video of a performance, and to find out about recent and upcoming performances. You can also find Theater of War on Facebook

About Vassar College

In keeping with Vassar College’s tradition of broad-based liberal arts education, its curriculum considers matters of war, peace, public health, and citizenship from a diverse range of disciplinary perspectives. Two recent initiatives have also deepened student and faculty engagement with the military experience, and made a Vassar education more available to veterans. Vassar began a partnership three years ago with the United States Military Academy at West Point, with the support of an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant to promote exchanges between students at liberal arts colleges and nearby military service academies. And in 2013 Vassar became the nation’s first college to enroll groups of military veterans through a new partnership with the acclaimed Posse Foundation, in a pilot program aimed at increasing the college-going and graduation rates of veterans at selective colleges and universities across the country.

Vassar College strives to make its events, performances, and facilities accessible to all. Individuals with disabilities requiring special accommodations must contact the Office of Campus Activities at least 48 hours in advance of an event, Mondays-Fridays, at (845) 437-5370. Without sufficient notice, appropriate space/and or assistance may not be available. For detailed information about accessibility to specific campus facilities, search for “campus accessibility information” on the Vassar homepage (

Vassar College is located at 124 Raymond Avenue in Poughkeepsie, NY, and directions to the campus can be found at

Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential, liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Thursday, October 24, 2013