A Female Philoctetes, BAM Fisher Hillman's Studio, Directed & adapted by Desiree Sanchez. Photographs by Richard Termine.

A Female Philoctetes

A combat soldier is inflicted with an incurable and insufferable injury. The soldier's comrades cannot bear to hear the cries of pain or the sight of the wound. They maroon the injured soldier and sail away.  The soldier is forgotten. That is, until ten years later, when they learn the cannot end the war without the help if the wounded warrior. Sophocles' ancient play, Philoctetes, captures a reality for all combat veterans who have been physically wounded and explores ethical dilemmas, as dynamic and relevant today as they were to the Greeks 2500 years ago. Aquila Theatre explored this ancient play, re-imagining the title role played as a female combat soldier.  

A Female Philoctetes premiered in April 2014 to sold-out audiences at Brooklyn Academy of Music Fisher's Hillman Studio and has been featured on NPR's "All Things Considered" and "The Diane Rehm Show."

Aquila Theatre's A Female Philoctetes will make its international debut, July 2015, at the Michael Cacoyannis Foundation's Cultural Centre in Athens, Greece, with support from the Theatre Communications Group as a Global Connections grant recipient. 


Michael CastelblancoChorus Leader, is a Veteran of the United States Marine Corps, serving eight years of active duty and two years in the reserves, attaining the rank of Staff Sergeant (SSgt). He is a linguist, fluent in four languages, conversant in an additional nine languages, trained and certified as an all-sources analyst and reporter and rifleman coach. Michael has recently been seen as Georg is a production of Spring Awakening, and in three supporting roles in Deployed, a new Off-Broadway musical. Michael has a background in music, playing eight instruments. 

Julia Crockett, Philoctetes, is a Brooklyn based performing artist. She is an actor, choreographer, and movement specialist. The founder of her own movement collective, Julia’s work has been featured in numerous galleries and theatrical venues throughout New York City and Brooklyn including the Movement Research Festival at St. Marks Church, Capricious 88 Gallery and Home Alone Gallery. She is a graduate of NYU and received her training in the Meisner technique from Maggie Flanigan. Julia now teaches movement and physical technique at Tisch School of the Arts, NYU and the Maggie Flanigan Studio. She is a 2013-2014 LEIMAY Black Studio Share Artist. Recent film/TV includes: Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Ramblin’ Round and The Absence.  

Nathan FlowerOdysseus, is an actor, director and choreographer. For the Aquila Theatre Co.  Off-Broadway: Herakles (BAM); Much Ado About Nothing, The Iliad: Book One (Lucille Lortel), National Tours of The Tempest, The Wrath of Achilles, Julius Caesar at the Shakespeare Festival at Neuss, Germany, Catch-22 at the Huntington Festival, The Iliad: Book One at the Festival at Syros, Greece. The Tempest at the Bermuda Festival. Mr. Flower has been proud to also work with Aquila's Ancient Greeks/Modern Lives, which has included performances at the Guggenheim and The White House. Other credits include The Acting Company, The Lamb's Theater, Inviolet Rep, the Hangar Theater, Crossroads Theater, Vermont Shakespeare Co., and Shakespeare in Delaware Park. Mr. Flower is on the faculty of the Department of Drama at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts where he teaches acting and physical technique.  He is also the Head of Movement Training at the Maggie Flanigan Studio in NYC.

Zara Lawler,  Chorus / Flutist / Assistant Music Director,  Ground-breaking flutist Zara Lawler trained at Juilliard and integrates dance and theater into her performances in venues ranging from the Guggenheim Museum (where she directed 104 "migrating" flutists) to school cafeterias and even public buses. Upcoming activities include this August's Flute Jamboree at the Kennedy Center, featuring the world premiere of two play-along/sing-along works for soloists and audience, the debut of Dedicated Acts, her etudes for interdisciplinary flutists; a residency at Avaloch Farm Music Institute with marimbist Paul J. Fadoul. Lawler + Fadoul released their critically acclaimed CD, Prelude Cocktail, in 2013 and will be touring their new program of music of percussion, Clickable, in coming seasons.

Seth MalkinHeracles, became a full-time member of the Metropolitan Opera Chorus in 2005. Previously he had performed a wide variety of roles in Opera and Music Theater, and has appeared with such companies as The Opera Orchestra of New York, Santa Fe Opera, New Orleans Opera and the Seattle Opera. Mr. Malkin has been presented in NY recitals at the Noonday Concert Series at St. Paul's Chapel, performing Ned Rorem's song cycle, Flight for Heaven. Noted for his grace onstage, Seth comes by his poise honestly: trained at the New York School of Ballet, he danced professionally in productions of Petrouchka with American Ballet Theater and was a featured dancer for Susan Stroman on Broadway. A veteran of several Broadway shows, he has appeared on The Tony Awards telecast with the company of Candide. He has also pursued an interest in liturgical music, leading a Wilkes Barre congregation from its cantorial pulpit many times.

Ivica MarcChorus, is a Croatian actor and performer. He studied Meisner acting, Williamson movement and Linklater voice and speech technique at Maggie Flanigan Studio with the great teachers who inspired and encouraged him to be the best possible artist he can be. He is excited to be a part of this production and honored to work with this cast. 

Michael RingNeoptolemus, graduated from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts - Classical and Meisner extensions. Recent credits include Aquila's touring productions of The Tempest and Wuthering Heights,  Good Breeding dir. Robert O'Hara, Eat the Chicken dir. Shanga Parker, and Playing for Time dir. Victoria Hart, among many dance performances with Julia Crockett.  

James StressChorus, is a New York city based actor. He received his Associate of Arts in Musical Theatre Performance from the University Wyoming, Casper and his Bachelor of Arts in Musical Theatre Performance from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Credits include Fyedka in Fiddler on the Roof and Snoopy in You're a Good Man Charlie Brown, dir. Glenn Casale, Sebastian in Twelfth Night and Attendant in Love's Labour Lost at the Nevada Conservatory Theatre.

Caleb WellsOdysseus / Merchant, is an actor and stuntman in New York City. He was born in Seoul, Korea and grew up overseas, learning German and playing ice hockey across Europe. After attending military college he joined the Marines, deployed to Iraq and was the Director of the Marine Corps Shooting Team. Following six years on active duty with the Marines, he moved to New York and began acting. Caleb's recent credits include theatre and performing stunts on television.

Creative Team

Desiree SanchezDirector, has directed this season’s production of  Romeo & Juliet and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and the past productions of The Tempest and Wuthering Heights for the 2014/2015 season, and the past productions of Twelfth Night and Fahrenheit 451 for the 2013/2014 season, A Female Philoctetes at BAM Fisher’s Hillman Studio, The Taming of the Shrew and Cyrano de Bergerac for the 2012/13 season, Herakles at BAM in March 2012 and the Festival of the Aegean in Syros, Greece and the Michael Cacoyannis Foundation in Athens in July, 2012, Macbeth and The Importance of Being Earnest for the 2011/12 season, and Six Characters in Search of an Author for the 2010/11 season; created movement for Aquila’s A Very Naughty Greek Play (Aristophanes’ Wasps), Catch-22Julius CaesarThe Iliad: Book One and The Comedy of Errors; performed in The Iliad: Book One at The Festival of the Aegean in Syros, Greece; and was the lead teaching artist for Aquila’s Shakespeare Leaders program in Harlem.  Desiree had a twenty-year dancing career including working as a principal dancer for the Metropolitan Opera Ballet where she worked under the direction of numerous directors and choreographers that included Francesca Zambello, Mark Lamos, Doug Varone, John Dexter, Franco Zeffirelli, Julie Taymor, and Andrei Konchalovsky. Other companies and choreographers she has worked with include the Boston Ballet, Neo Labos Dancetheatre, Donald Bryd/The Group, Sean Curran, Gelsey Kirkland, Bill T. Jones, Heidy Latsky, Eun Me Ahn in Korea, and Robert La Fosse. She has also collaborated with the Winnipeg Contemporary Dance Company of Canada and the Delfos Danza Compania of Mexico. She performed for the Papermill Playhouse as a featured dancer in the musicals, Carousel and The King and I. She has also taught at Long Island University, as a visiting associate professor of dance, Elliot Feld’s Ballet Tech and has a Certificate of Movement Therapy from The New School and is a proud graduate of Walnut Hill School of the Arts.

Ralph FarrisComposer and  Musical Director, multi-instrumentalist, composer-arranger, producer and conductor, Ralph Farris is a connecting force on the front lines of the new music. An award-winning graduate of The Juilliard School and Walnut Hill School of the Arts, and 3-time Tanglewood Fellow, Ralph is a founding member and Artistic Director of the genre-bending string quartet ETHEL. The onetime Music Director and Solo Fiddle of the Roger Daltrey Band, Ralph was an original company member of Disney’s “The Lion King” on Broadway. He has performed in concert with such luminaries as Paul Simon, Pete Townsend, Leonard Bernstein, Alice Cooper, Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road project, Sinead O’Conner, Joe Jackson and Lou Reed.  His composition commissions include the Jerome Foundation; dance evangelists Monkeyhouse; Las Vegas darlings Jarrett & Raja; Walnut School for the Arts; and the NEA. His scoring credits include Noelle Brower's "Everything is Ordinary;" Anika Burt's "Begin Again;" and Jehane Noujaim's "Pangea Day" industrial.

Peter MeineckFounder/Lighting Designer. He founded Aquila Theatre in 1991 and worked extensively in theater in London, New York and throughout Europe in various capacities that ranged from theater electrician, rigger, lighting designer, director and producer. He was trained by Martin Godfrey, technical manager of the Bloomsbury and Royal National Theatre in London. Theaters he worked at include: the Almeida, the National Theatre, the Phoenix, the Aldwych, the Fortune and several other West End theaters, the Bloomsbury and the Shaw to name just a few, working under the likes of  Ace McCarron, David Hersey, Pat Collins and Mark Henderson. With Aquila, he has produced and/or directed more than 50 professional productions of classic drama and has lit many of Aquila's shows. Favorites include: Iliad (1999), Cyrano (2001), Catch-22 (2009), Macbeth (2011), Fahrenheit 451 (2013). He is currently Professor of Classics at New York University where he specializes in ancient performance and the application of cognitive science to the study of the ancient world.  He is a graduate of University College London (BA hons. Ancient World Studies) and the University of Nottingham (PhD Classics) and former Royal Marine Reservist. Peter continues to serve as a Lieutenant Firefighter and EMT in Westchester, NY.

Christopher Marc, Company Stage Manager, comes from Minneapolis Minnesota where he has been working as a Stage Manager, Sound Designer, Set Designer and Technician for 5 years. Christopher graduated with a B.F.A Theatre and Communications with an emphasis in Stage Management and Sound Design. Stage Management Credits include The Fantasticks with Skylark Opera, ART with Bloomington Civic Theatre Death of a Salesman, Cabaret, Leading Ladies, Arsenic and Old Lace, Almost Maine, Mr. A’s Amazing Maze Plays, All Shook Up, As You Like It, Mousetrap, Little Shop of Horrors, Meet Me In St. Louis, with Lyric Arts. Sound credits include Becky’s New Car, Over the Tavern, Sherlock Holmes, The Boxcar Children, with Lyric Arts as well as 4 months with the Idaho Shakespeare Festival as a soundboard op and technician. Set Design credits include Little Shop of Horrors, Pirates of Penzance, and Beauty and the Beast with Anoka High School. He has also worked as a sound and lighting technician around the Minneapolis area with Mixed Blood Theatre, Yellow Tree Theatre, Theatre in the Round, Lyric Arts, I.A.T.S.E Local #13 Over hire, and EMI Audio.