“Philoctetes Variations”


The Greek warrior, Philoctetes, who inherited Heracles’ poisonous bow and arrows, is on his way to Troy when a snake bites his foot. The wound suppurates, giving off an unbearable stench. Philoctetes’ so-called friends avoid him and it is on Agamemnon’s direct order that yesterday’s hero is banished to the uninhabited island of Lemnos for the ten years that the Trojan war raged.

If this myth didn’t exist, the Wooster Group’s much acclaimed actor, Ron Vawter, could have written it. Not only was Vawter once a U.S. soldier (a contemporary warrior after all), but for someone with AIDS the ancient myth can easily become a metaphor for the experience of living with the disease today. Using three variations of Sophocles’ original tragedy, Vawter and two Belgian actors (Dirk Roofthooft and Viviane De Muynck) performed one of the most disturbing plays ever. The first part, written especially for

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