Theater of Law

The Redemptive Power of Ancient Stories

April 16, 2016

Actors Paul Giamatti and David Strathairn performed excerpts from Theater of War, an innovative project (produced by Outside the Wire) that presents readings of ancient Greek tragedies for service members, veterans, and their families throughout the world and has started much needed conversations about the visible and invisible wounds of war. 

A discussion with Giamatti, Strathairn, and author/director Bryan Doerries, who founded Theater of War, followed the performance. The guests shared their own experiences engaging service members and their families through this original theater project. Questions this event explored are as follows: As our nation faces an increase in PTSD rates with returning soldiers, what healing lessons can we discover in these ancient Greek tragedies? What can government leaders learn from these classics as they struggle to create new policies and initiatives to adequately address both the physical and psychological injuries of war?

Doerries also discussed and signed copies his book The Theater of War and of his newly published original graphic novel, The Odyssey of Sergeant Jack Brennan, an adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey which captures the timeless experiences of returning veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Watch The Redemptive Power of Ancient Stories here.

See more from FOLCS here.


Paul Giamatti

Paul Giamatti has established himself as one of the most versatile actors of his generation with a diverse roster of finely etched, award-winning, and critically acclaimed performances.

Giamatti can be seen in New Line’s adaptation of the Broadway stage musical Rock of Ages, directed by Adam Shankman. The film co-stars Tom Cruise, Mary J. Blige, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand, and Julianne Hough. He also stars in David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis, co-starring Robert Pattinson and Juliette Binoche.

In television, he was recently seen in Curtis Hanson’s HBO movie Too Big To Fail, in which he portrayed Ben Bernanke opposite William Hurt and Billy Crudup. His performance earned him his third SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries as well as Emmy and Golden Globe nominations.

His performance in Barney’s Version earned him his second Golden Globe Award. Based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Mordechai Richler, the film was directed by Richard J. Lewis and co-starred Dustin Hoffman, Rosamund Pike, and Minnie Driver.

In 2008, Giamatti won an Emmy, SAG, and Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Miniseries for his portrayal of the title character in the HBO seven-part Emmy Award–winning miniseries John Adams. Directed by Emmy Award–winning director Tom Hooper, Giamatti played President John Adams in a cast that also included award-winning actors Laura Linney, Tom Wilkinson, David Morse, and Stephen Dillane.

In 2006, Giamatti’s performance in Ron Howard’s Cinderella Man earned him his first SAG Award and a Broadcast Film Critics’ Award for Best Supporting Actor, as well as Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations in the same category.

Giamatti first captured the eyes of America in Betty Thomas’s hit comedy Private Parts. His extensive list of film credits also includes Jonathan English’s Ironclad; Todd Phillips’s The Hangover 2; The Last Station opposite Christopher Plummer and Helen Mirren; Tony Gilroy’s Duplicity; Cold Souls, which Giamatti also executive produced; David Dobkin’s Fred Claus; Shoot ‘Em Up opposite Clive Owen; Shari Springer Berman and Roger Pulcini’s The Nanny Diaries; M. Night Shyamalan’s Lady in the Water; The Illusionist, directed by Neil Burger; Milos Forman’s Man on the Moon; Julian Goldberger’s The Hawk is Dying; Tim Robbins’s The Cradle Will Rock; F. Gary Gray’s The Negotiator; Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan; Peter Weir’s The Truman Show; Mike Newell’s Donnie Brasco; Todd Solondz’ Storytelling; Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes; Duets opposite Gwyneth Paltrow; the animated film Robots; and Big Momma’s House, co-starring Martin Lawrence. Giamatti also appeared in James Foley’s Confidence and John Woo’s Paycheck.

As an accomplished stage actor, Giamatti received a Drama Desk nomination for Best Supporting Actor as Jimmy Tomorrow in Kevin Spacey’s Broadway revival of The Iceman Cometh. His other Broadway credits include The Three Sisters directed by Scott Elliot, Racing Demon directed by Richard Eyre, and Arcadia directed by Trevor Nunn. He was also seen Off-Broadway in the ensemble cast of The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui with Al Pacino.

For television, Giamatti appeared in The Pentagon Papers with James Spader, HBO’s Winchell opposite Stanley Tucci and Jane Anderson’s If These Walls Could Talk 2.


David Strathairn

David Strathairn won the Volpi Cup at the Venice Film Festival and earned nominations from the Academy, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, BAFTA, and Independent Spirit awards for his compelling portrait of legendary CBS news broadcaster Edward R. Murrow in George Clooney’s Oscar-nominated drama Good Night, and Good Luck and won an Emmy for Best Supporting Actor in the HBO project Temple Grandin.

His 2005 Independent Spirit nomination was the fourth in a stellar career that dates back to his 1980 motion picture debut in John Sayles’s first film, The Return of the Secaucus Seven. Strathairn subsequently collaborated with Sayles on seven titles, winning the IFP honor for his supporting performance in City of Hope, while collecting two additional nominations for Passion Fish and Limbo.

His early screen efforts included supporting roles in Mike Nichols’s Silkwood, Fred Schepisi’s Iceman, James Foley’s At Close Range, and Robert M. Young’s Dominick and Eugene, as well as Sayles’s acclaimed dramas Matewan and Eight Men Out, and his 1984 satire, The Brother from Another Planet.

Strathairn continued a busy screen career with co-starring roles in several critically acclaimed films, including Tim Robbins’s directorial debut, Bob Roberts; Penny Marshall’s A League of Their Own; Losing Isaiah; Sydney Pollack’s The Firm; Sneakers; Taylor Hackford’s adaptation of the Stephen King novel Dolores Claiborne; and Jodie Foster’s Home for the Holidays; as well as two projects with Curtis Hansen: The River Wild and the Oscar-winning L.A. Confidential, in which Strathairn shared a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination with the all-star ensemble cast. His additional movie credits include Memphis Belle, A Map of the World, Simon Birch, Lost in Yonkers, Missing in America, Michael Hoffman’s adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Philip Kaufman’s Twisted, HBO’s The Notorious Bettie Page, The Bourne Ultimatum directed by Paul Greengrass, and The Tempest starring opposite Helen Mirren.

He has also maintained a high profile in the theatrical world, with roles at such venues as the Manhattan Theatre Club, the New York Shakespeare Festival, SoHo Rep, the Hartford Stage Company, Ensemble Studio Theatre, and Seattle Repertory. His involvement since its inception with Bryan Doerries’ “Theater of War”— the innovative public-health project seeking to help military veterans cope with combat stress and PTSD— continues to be among the most vital and rewarding experiences of his acting.


Bryan Doerries
Writer, Director & Translator

Bryan Doerries is a writer, director, and translator. 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 suffering and loss. He is the founder of Theater of War, a project that presents readings of ancient Greek plays to service members, veterans, caregivers, and families to help them initiate conversations about the visible and invisible wounds of war. He is also the co-founder and Artistic Director of Outside the Wire, a social impact company that uses theater and a variety of other media to address pressing public health and social issues. His book, The Theater of War: What Ancient Greek Tragedies Can Teach Us Today, was published by Alfred A. Knopf in September of 2015, along with a volume of his translations of ancient Greek tragedies, entitled All That You’ve Seen Here is God. His forthcoming graphic novel, The Odyssey of Sergeant Jack Brennan, an adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey as told by an infantry Marine to his squad, will be published by Pantheon in April of 2016.