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Scena Theatre presents the classic, ancient Greek tragedy AJAX by Sophocles, which opens on March 23 and runs through April 19 at the ATLAS on H St. NE 

Washington, DC, March 1, 2020 — The Directors of Scena Theatre continue their 33rd Season in DC by presenting a classic international drama, AJAX by Sophocles. This bold production is the latest installment from Washington's premier international theatre company, Scena. AJAX is directed by Artistic Director Robert McNamara.

Press Night / Opening of AJAX is Monday, March 23, 2020 at 8:00 pm at the ATLAS Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE, Washington, DC. Press Members: please RSVP to to secure a seat. Or, kindly request an alternate date, if needed.

AJAX is a profound wartime drama that explores a warrior's glory, hubris, anger, self-destruction and ultimately shame. It takes place right after The Iliad when the celebrated Greek warrior Achilles is slain in battle. As a result, Ajax is deemed the greatest living Greek warrior and believes he should be given Achilles' mighty armor. Yet, the Kings, Agamemnon and Menelaus, award the armor to Odysseus. Ajax is furious and rebels—killing the recent spoils of war including cattle and herdsman. This ignites dishonor and shame on Ajax and the kingdom.

Translator John Tipton's text echoes the devastating experience of US soldiers in the two-decade wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. These warriors are often forgotten due to the Middle East's faraway location. And, many are ignored upon their return, despite suffering from depression and PTSD. One might say Ajax embodies the US soldier: he has performed his duty yet feels unrewarded. Like many troubled veterans, mental anguish and loss of honor drive Ajax to suicide. The ancient Greek warrior's code demanded it. What ensues after Ajax's demise is a four-way dogfight over his corpse by detached, judgmental rulers.

AJAX is the earliest of Sophocles' seven great tragedies that have been fully preserved. Sadly, many more of his plays have been lost over the centuries. This play features a large cast of actors, some of which are longtime Scena favorites. McNamara is excited to return to his classical theatre roots. "As theatre artists and literature lovers, we have a duty to preserve great, ancient dramas. Otherwise, they'll fade from our culture."

Scena has produced many Greek classics such as Euripides' anti-war tragedy Women of Troy set in a Bosnian rape camp (1997), a trilogy of powerful plays by Euripides entitled Elektra (2000), a bold production of Letter to Orestes in Greece's "Piramatiki Skini" Festival (2004), and The Persians by Aeschylus, addressing US entanglements in both Gulf Wars (2005).

Scena has also presented numerous staged readings of Greek plays at several US Embassies. All told, McNamara has 40 years of experience directing the classics, and he is deemed an expert on European dramas. He staged his first Greek drama during studies for a Master's degree at Trinity College Dublin when he directed Agamemnon.


Fri & Sat, March 20 & 21 at 8:00 pm | Sun March 22 at 3:00 pm


Mon, March 23 - Sun, April 19, 2020 (Mon - Sat 8:00 pm | Sun 3:00 pm)



$25 - $45 — Thurs & Sun: Adults $35 | Students/Seniors w/ID $25; Fri & Sat: Adults $45 | Students/Seniors w/ID $35)


THE ATLAS, LAB II | 1333 H St. NE, Washington, DC 20002


Email: | Phone: 571-216-5136


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Leo Delgado, Ellie Nicoll, Oscar Ceville, Rudaba Nasir, Catherine Gilbert, Greg Ongao, Robert Sheire, Kim Curtis, Robert McNamara, Daniel Riker and Michael Miyazaki


Robert McNamara (Director), Mahy Polymeropoulou (Set Designer), Jonathan Alexander (Lighting Designer), Denise Rose (Sound Design), Mei Chen (Costume Designer), Anne Nottage (Literary Manager), Gabriele Jakobi (Dramaturg & Resident Director), and more T.B.A.

Sophocles (Playwright 497 BC – 405 BC) is one of three ancient Greek tragedian playwrights whose plays have survived (alongside Euripides and Aeschylus). He wrote over 120 plays in his life—yet only seven have survived in their complete form: Ajax, Antigone, Women of Trachis, Oedipus Rex, Electra, Philoctetes and Oedipus at Colonus. For nearly 50 years, Sophocles was the most celebrated playwright in the dramatic competitions of the city-state of Athens during the religious festivals of the Lenaea and the Dionysia. He entered 30 competitions, won 24, and was never judged lower than second place. Aeschylus won 13 competitions, and was sometimes defeated by Sophocles, while Euripides won four. The most famous tragedies of Sophocles feature Oedipus and also Antigone. They are known as "the Theban plays", although each was actually a part of a different tetralogy, the other members of which are now lost. Sophocles influenced the development of drama, most importantly by adding a third actor, thereby reducing the importance of the chorus in the presentation of the plot. He also developed his characters to a greater degree than earlier playwrights such as Aeschylus.

SCENA Theatre brings the best international theatre to Washington, DC and stimulates cultural exchange between theatre artists, locally and worldwide. Founded in 1987 under the leadership of Artistic Director Robert McNamara and Managing Director Amy Schmidt, SCENA produces an annual season of plays, seasonally staged readings, as well as a Workshop Series aimed at developing new works from around the globe. To learn more about our mission or past stage productions, please Click on the “About” link on the left menu.