Ancient Greek Drama meets Modern Medical Challenges around End of Life Care
28 March 2019

Perhaps no human question is more fundamental than that of how we approach our own mortality and the inevitable end of life. As much as a question for medical science to address, it’s one for art to explore.

End of Life, a project co-organized by Theater of War Productions and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University, looks to bring these two disparate angles of approach together for an open discussion on illness, palliative care, and death, sparked by readings from ancient Greek plays.

Actors Sonja Sohn, Zach Grenier, David Strathairn, and Marjolain Goldsmith will read scenes from Sophocles’ plays Women of Trachis and Philoctetes. Various communities of professionals from groups within Johns Hopkins—including the Berman Institute of Bioethics, the Center for Medical Humanities and Social Medicine, the School of Nursing, and the School of Medicine—are invited to join the discussion. The event will be facilitated by Theater of War Artistic Director Bryan Doerries, who also directs the projects and translated the texts.

The event will take place on Friday, April 12 from 5-7 p.m. at the Johns Hopkins Hospital’ Chevy Chase Auditorium in the Sheik Zayed Tower.

Using stories from the realms of Classics and the classics, Theater of War engages communities in discussion of pressing, sometimes taboo, contemporary issues, from elder care, to the refugee crisis, to mental health, to racial injustice. The Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) has provided significant repeated support to Theater of War, including for a free ten-week run of the company’s powerful Antigone in Ferguson in Brooklyn.

Drawing inspiration from the Agora of ancient Athens, which was a hub of conversation and debate and the center of the city-state’s democratic governance, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation committed $150 million to a joint effort with Johns Hopkins University to create the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Agora Institute. The SNF Agora Institute brings together experts from fields such as political science, psychology, and philosophy to promote open and inclusive discourse.