top of page

MORE shows added!  Jan. 13-20 2024

The House of War and Love
April 29 through May 5 2024



by Sophocles

Translated from the Greek by Bryan Doerries

Directed by Jeff Mills

Lights Designed by Kevin Wleklinski 

Stage Manager Miranda Taylor

Props and Costume Design by Jeff Mills

Music and Sound Design by Jeff Mills


Bryan Doerries, Fabrice Lubin, Katie Augustyn, Kirk Anderson, Bob Gerics, Mark Elliot, Phil Timberlake, Trystan Mills, Sabra Weber, Derek Spaldo, Martin Alcocer-Garcia, Charlotte Markle, Laura Murillo-Hart, Bella Kelso


Philoctetes- Ashlea Woodley

Neoptolemus- Derek Spaldo

Odysseus- Michael Dias

Chorus/Soldier- Haley Bolithon

Chorus/Soldier- Alexis Primus

Captain- Eliot Hall

Heracles- Courtney Abbott


Philoctetes, a celebrated Greek warrior, is abandoned by his company on the way to the Trojan War. After nine years alone on a desolate island, nursing a debilitating injury and fighting for his survival, he finds the Greek army has returned not to rescue him, but to ask for his help. The young and inexperienced Neoptolemus (son of Achilles) must come to terms with having to trick an old injured soldier into coming back to fight.  And Philoctetes must face the military leader (Odysseus) who gave the dishonorable order to forsake him.


Psychiatrist Dr. Jonathan Shay, in his books Achilles in Vietnam and Odysseus in America, argues that many American combat veterans suffer from “moral injury,” which is a kind of psychological trauma that can be more devastating than losing an arm or a leg. He contends that ancient Greek Drama evolved as a kind of “military technology” designed to help heal psychological wounds and integrate soldiers back into civilian life. Sophocles was a Greek general. All of his actors and a large majority of the audience were all veterans. At that time the city of Athens had been at war for decades. It stands to reason that the communal ritual of witnessing a character like Philoctetes struggle through his plight allows spectators from all military ranks and levels of society to acknowledge the soldiers’ suffering. In addition to that

acknowledgment, all citizens, soldier and civilian alike, are asked to come to terms with the causes of that suffering. Proboscis Theatre Company believes that staging these ancient Greek plays today presents the same opportunity for communal healing and understanding as it did in the 5th Century BC. Using a production model developed by director Bryan Doerries’ and his “Theatre of War” method,  a facilitated discussion about the play's themes will be held after each performance. We hope to spark an inspiring conversation with any veterans or first responders who watched the play.  

CONTENT WARNING:  The production depicts the use of firearms.  The pistols you see on stage are props, and are made entirely of rubber.  There are no firing mechanisms, caps, blanks, or triggers.  There is mention of suicide.  

Collapsible text is great for longer section titles and descriptions. It gives people access to all the info they need, while keeping your layout clean. Link your text to anything, or set your text box to expand on click. Write your text here...

Ashlea Woodley (Philoctetes and Co-Artistic Director) she/her/hers, is a classically trained actress and mover with a profound love for new and original work. She began her training at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she received her BA in Theatre Arts and Social Philosophy. She continued working in Milwaukee post-undergrad, working specifically in original devisal and physical theatre, creating some of the most daring and visceral new work in the region. From there, she pursued and received her MFA in Acting at DePaul University’s renowned The Theatre School. Ashlea holds the belief that theatre should be as diverse as the individuals with whom she has worked in her community. In addition to her training and practice as an actor and deviser, she has taught both adults and children with disabilities as a teaching artist and as a special educator, holding a Master’s degree in Special Education from Cardinal Stritch University. A fierce advocate for neurodiversity and individuals with disabilities in all performance media, she lives Picasso’s words: “There is only one way to look at things until someone shows us how to look at them with different eyes.” She is represented by Dream Team Talent.

Michael Dias (Odysseus) he/him, is a Chicago-based actor and teacher. He is extremely proud to be a core company member of Proboscis Theatre Company. He teaches mask performance at DePaul University and stage combat at College of DuPage. Michael recently earned his MFA in acting from Ohio University, where he also taught mask, mime and clowning to BFA and MFA students. Recent credits include: Wolves (Wolf) with Redtwist Theatre, Sense & Sensibility (Col. Brandon) with Northern Stage, And Neither Have I Wings to Fly (Freddie) with First Folio, Little Shop of Horrors (Puppeteer and Whino) with Citadel Theatre, House of Circe (Daedalus) and Queens of Infinite Space (Prince Christian) with Proboscis Theatre, Rhinoceros (Beringer) with Tantrum Theater, The Wind in the Willows (Mr. Toad) with Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Macbeth (Macbeth) and Bug (Peter) with Ohio University. Michael also produces the Mime Radio Show podcast.

Derek Spaldo (Neoptolemus) is an actor and musician, originally from Rutherford, NJ. Prior to moving to Chicago in 2017, Derek attended Eugene Lang College, The New School for Liberal Arts, and was immersed in the downtown New York experimental theatre, dance, and performance art scene. In New York, he had the pleasure of working with artists such as Paul Lazar, Christina Masciotti, Richard Maxwell/New York City Players, Hamlet Isn't Dead, and Zishan Ugurlu, at venues such as Abrons Art Center, The Brick, The Bushwick Starr, The Chocolate Factory, and La MaMa. As a musician, Derek performed as a guitarist and vocalist in the critically acclaimed band Garcia Peoples, where he had the privilege of working with artists such as P.G. Six, Chris Forsyth, and Matt Sweeney. TV: Chicago Med. MFA, The Theatre School at DePaul University. Derek is represented by Stewart Talent.

Alexis Primus (Chorus/Soldier) she/they, is from Washington DC and is an MFA Acting candidate at The Theatre School at DePaul University. They graduated from The University of Pittsburgh in 2019 and have performed in musicals, plays, operas, films, television shows, and self-generated work since then. She is excited about the opportunity to be a part of Philoctetes and looks forward to becoming more involved in the arts community in Chicago.

Courtney Abbott (Heracles) she/they. Recently seen as Leontes with the Back Room Shakespeare Project, Courtney directs intimacy and violence at theaters across Chicago. Upcoming: Women Beware Women (Blue in the Right Way); Lavender Men (About Face).

Eliot Hall (Captain) is from Northern California. He is in his last year at The Theater School at Depaul University and he’s thankful to all his friends and family who have come to support him.

Jeff Mills (Director, Costume/Prop Design, Music/Sound Design) he/him, is the founder and Co-Artistic Director of Proboscis.  With Proboscis Jeff has directed Piezoelectric Love: The (half) Life of Marie Curie, La La La Strada, Strap-On, Bloody Beautiful, The Queens of Infinite Space, and Tempest.  Locally Jeff has directed A Wrinkle in TIme, As You Like It, Hedda Gabler, Henry VI pt.3, and the Cat in the Hat at TTS, and Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus at Northbrook Theatre.  Jeff is a classically trained actor, movement artist, fight director and musician who has performed with companies all over the world.  He's looking forward to performing his solo show, Prospero's Black Box in Prague and Verona this summer! Jeff currently directs and teaches movement for actors at the Theatre School, DePaul University. 


Philoctetes-  The greatest archer of the Greek army! He was one of the Argonauts and accompanied Jason and Heracles on many adventures.  He was a close friend of Heracles and was the only one who was willing to relieve Heracles' suffering by lighting the pyre that burned him alive.  

Heracles- The greatest hero of Greek mythology.  His many adventures included his twelve labors which were a penance ordered by the Goddess Hera who hated his existence.  Close friends with Philoctetes.  When he mistakenly donned a poison garment that began killing him slowly, he asked Philoctetes to burn him alive because that was preferable to the suffering from the poison.  In exchange for this difficult kindness, Heracles gave Philoctetes his bow, with the arrows that never miss. When he died, Zeus made him a God. 

Odysseus- Famous strategist.  Too smart for his own good and not very wise! A generation younger than Heracles and Philoctetes.  He's been away from home (fighting the Trojan War) for ten years and misses his wife and young son.  He was one of the suiters of Helen (along with Philoctetes) and came up with the idea that, to be in the running for Helen's hand in marriage, you had to swear an oath to protect the marriage and fight anyone who might kidnap Helen.  When Paris stole Helen away to Troy,  all the suitors were obligated to fight.  After inventing the Trojan horse and wining with the war, Odysseus spent another ten years trying to get back home. 

Neoptolemus- The son of Achilles.  A prophecy that was given to Odysseus said that it would be Neoptolemus who must get the bow and bring Philoctetes to Troy to win the war.  Odysseus had to travel to Skyros to fetch Neoptolemus, who had grown up for 10 years without a father.  It was a sacred tradition to give the weapons and armor of a dead soldier to their sons. After Achilles died at Troy, Odysseus talked his way into inheriting Achilles arms.  This was seen as a travesty of justice! 

Chorus-  Soldiers and "Captain".  These are all young men, friends of Neoptolemus, on their first adventure.  Never having left the island of Skyros, also growing up without fathers,  they are all dropped into this fraught situation.  

Proboscis Theatre Company Core Members
Jeff Mills Co-Artistic Director
Ashlea Woodley Co-Artistic Director
Michael Dias
Charlotte Markle
Tia Pinson
Nadia Pillay
Amelia Hernandez
Diane Fidalgo
Olivia Nathan
Derek Spaldo
Piper Kirchhofer
Grainne Ortlieb
Sathapat Sansuwan
Lucy Elkin
Kerry Walsh
Faith Locke

Associate Members 
Jarred Webb
Courtney Abbott
Haley Bolithon
Keith Illidge
TJ Thomas

Proboscis Board of Directors
Jeff Mills
Arlyne Chin
Kevin Wleklinski



Paula Johson

Risa Brainin

Elaine Haydock

Eric Lewis

Kimberly Logan

Arlyne Chin

Jeffrey Mills

Jacinda Duffin

Noah Harpster

Arnold and Carol Kanter

Andrea Mills

Jaclyn Fierro

Mark Sherman

Darren Davis

Matthew Robison

Dana Caldwell

Christina Oliver

Dianne Simpson

Tobi Mattingly

Mark Spaldo

Tanya Dupras

Matthew Tavianini

Heather Stevenson

Chip Persons

Chaya Gordon-Bland

Erika Sengstack

Megan Fitzpatrick

Genevieve Anderson

Amanda Pulcini

Eleanor Carle

Bob Gerics

Blythe Foster

Peter Lackner

Jennifer  LeBlanc

Michelle Lopez Rios

Laurie Hegge

Katherine Wehler

Gwyn Mccoll

Jamie Graves

James Connolly

Joanne Balbarin

Kim Lero

Tina Kotrych

Rebecca Galkin

Meredith McMinn

bottom of page