Aquila Theatre's mission is to bring the greatest works to the greatest number. We believe passionately that everyone should be given the opportunity to engage with classical drama of the highest quality at an affordable price right in their own community, experience the arts from other places and exchange ideas. We re-examine what constitutes a classical work and, in so doing, seek to expand the canon. We endeavor to create bold reinterpretations of classical plays for contemporary audiences that free the spirit of the original work and recreate the excitement of the live performance. Aquila presents its work each year in New York City, tours nationwide, provides extensive educational programming and is well known for its innovative humanities and arts based public programs.
What We Do
PRODUCTIONS IN NEW YORK CITY
Aquila has had a steady annual presence in NYC since 2000, most recently ART NY Theatre Alliance, The Mezzanine Theatre with A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Frankenstein and new works from the Warrior Chorus. The company has also performed: Sense and Sensibility at the Queens Theatre in the Park (2017); and Our Trojan War at BAM Fisher(2017); Romeo and Juliet, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Philoctetes at the GK ArtsCenter in Brooklyn (2016); a staged workshop production of A Female Philoctetes at BAM Fisher Hillman Studio (2015); Euripides’ Herakles at the BAM Fisher (2014); Shakespeare’s Macbeth at the GYM at Judson (2012). A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author (2011) and As You Like It and Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People (2010) at Skirball Center for the Performing Arts; Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 and Homer’s The Iliad: Book One (2009) at the Lucille Lortel Theatre; Prometheus Bound, with David Oyelowo at Classic Stage Company (2007). Other notable NYC runs include Agamemnon with Olympia Dukakis in 2004 at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater; an extended run of Much Ado About Nothing at 45 Bleecker Street in 2001 and The New Victory Theater in 2003.
A MAJOR ANNUAL NATIONAL TOUR
Aquila is the foremost producer of touring classical theatre in the United States, visiting 50-60 American cities per year. This 2019-2020 season includes Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey and George Orwell’s classic dystopian story 1984. The most recent past touring seasons include: A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (2018/2019); Hamlet and Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility (2017/2018); Much Ado About Nothing, Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Nile, and Our Trojan War (2016/2017); Romeo and Juliet and Doyle’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (2015/2016); The Tempest and Brontë’s Wuthering Heights (2014/2015); Aquila has also appeared in numerous festivals and international venues around the world including London, Holland, Germany, Greece, Scotland, Italy, Canada, Bermuda. Highlights include Festival of the Aegean in Syros, Greece and the Michael Cacoyannis Foundation in Athens. Aquila’s 2020-2021 season will include Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
APPLIED THEATRE AND HUMANITIES
Warrior Chorus is a national innovative public program that trains veterans to present humanities programming based on ancient literature, presented in partnership with the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Warrior Chorus: American Odyssey is currently running in New York, Miami, Florida and Austin, Texas with workshops and events across the country exploring Homer’s The Odyssey from veterans’ perspectives .
Aquila is dedicated to theatre arts education and produces three major initiatives: Workshop America, a nationwide program that provides an opportunity for people to share in the art of Aquila with masterclasses and workshops; Theatre Breakthrough, which brings America’s schools to the theatre for full productions and guided tours of a theatrical production as well as talk-backs and Q&As so students can experience the excitement of live performances; Hear our Call, a new drama based three-week summer program held at New York University for teens who are from immigrant, refugee and asylee families. The program uses Aeschylus’ Suppliants, a play that explores the responsibility democracy has towards those seeking asylum and refuge as a springboard for discussion and the creation of new works from these new young voices. This program is funded by the Onassis Foundation USA.
Center for Ancient Studies at New York University
Permanent company-in-residence at the Center since 1998, the Aquila Theatre Company is internationally known for its productions of classical drama. Each year Aquila presents productions at over 50 venues throughout the country. In connection with some of these, the Center for Ancient Studies sponsors outreach events, such as panels at Lincoln Center on "War Poetry" (1999) and at the Folger Shakespeare Library on "Images of Caesar" (2000). A production of Homer's "Iliad: Book One" was presented as part of the Center's annual Lewent Conference on "Saving the City" in spring 2002. In spring 2004 Lewent Conference, "Performing Justice," was held in conjunction with Aquila's production of Aeschylus' Agamemnon, featuring Olympia Dukakis and Louis Zorich. Veteran's Day 2014, Aquila Theatre presented scenes from A Female Philoctetes as part of the Lewent Conference "WarStories: Ancient and Modern Narratives of War."
Who We Are
Desiree Sanchez (EXECUTIVE Artistic Director)
Desiree Sanchez has been Aquila’s artistic director since 2012. This season she will be directing both George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and Homer’s The Odyssey, as well as co–directing Aquila’s new national public program The Warrior Chorus: American Odyssey, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Humanities. Past productions she has directed include: A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Frankenstein(2018); Hamlet and Sense and Sensibility (2017); Much Ado About Nothing and Our Trojan War (2016); Romeo and Juliet, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Philoctetes (2015); The Tempest and Wuthering Heights (2014); A Female Philoctetes at BAM Fisher's Hillman Studio (2014); Twelfth Night and Fahrenheit 451 (2013); The Taming of the Shrew and Cyrano de Bergerac (2012); Herakles (2012) at the Festival of the Aegean in Syros, Greece and at the Michael Cacoyannis Foundation in Athens and at BAM in 2013; Macbeth and The Importance of Being Earnest (2011); and Six Characters in Search of an Author (2010). Desiree wrote the stage adaptations for Frankenstein, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Wuthering Heights for the Aquila Theatre and choreographed for: A Very Naughty Greek Play, based on Aristophanes' Wasps (2004); Julius Caesar (2006), Catch-22 (2007); The Iliad: Book One and The Comedy of Errors (2008). Desiree had a twenty-year dancing career, which included working as a principal dancer for the Metropolitan Opera Ballet.
Peter Meineck (founder and Program Director)
Peter founded founded Aquila Theatre in 1991 and has worked extensively in theater in London and New York. He holds an endowed chair as the Professor of Classics in the Modern World 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 also Honorary Professor of Humanities at the University of Nottingham and has held fellowships at Harvard, Princeton and the University of California and the Onassis Foundation. He has published numerous translations of Greek plays with Hackett, and was awarded 2001/02 Lewis Galantiere Award for Literary Translation for his translation of Aeschylus' Oresteia. He received the 2009 NYU Golden Dozen Teaching Award, a 2009 Humanities Initiative Team Teaching Award, the American Philological Association Outreach Prize. Peter is a regular performing arts contributor to the humanities journal Arion and has published several scholarly articles on Greek drama and Shakespeare. He recently wrote a new book, Theatocracy: Greek drama, cognition and the imperative for theatre, published by Routledge and edited Combat Trauma and the Ancient Greeks with David Konstan (Palgrave). He has produced and/or directed more than 50 professional productions of classic drama. He has received significant grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities for devising and directing the groundbreaking public programs: You/Stories, Ancient Greeks/Modern Lives (Chairman’s Special Award), and Page and Stage: The Power of The Iliad Today. He also acts as an advisor of Greek literature and mythology, recently to National Geographic, Disney, Fuse TV and Will Smith (I am Legend). He is a graduate of University College London (BA hons. Ancient World Studies) and the University of Nottingham (PhD Classics) and a former Royal Marines Reservist. Peter continues to serve as a Captain Firefighter and EMT in Westchester, NY.
general management - Perry street theatricals
DAVID ELLIOTT is Co-Director of Perry Street Theatricals and has produced or co-produced over twenty five productions in New York and London, including: Dames At Sea (Helen Hayes Theatre), Vanya And Sonia And Masha And Spike (Golden Theatre, TONY, Drama Desk), My Life Is A Musical (Bay Street), Lend Me A Tenor The Musical (London, West End, Gielgud Theatre, Olivier nom.), Hamlet and Saint Joan (Bedlam, Off Broadway Alliance Winner, OBIE nom), an oak tree (Barrow Street Theatre, OBIE); In The Continuum (OBIE, Outer Critics); A Dangerous Personality (Women’s Project Theatre), Exits And Entrances (Edinburgh Fringe, Assembly), Treason; Gareth Armstrong’s Shylock (Outer Critics nom.); The Exonerated (Drama Desk, Outer Critics, Lortel, Edinburgh Fringe First); Temporary Help (Women’s Project Theatre); Carl The Second (29th Street Rep); Imperfect Love; The Perpetual Patient; Where Everything Is Everything; Wrong Way Up; I Wanna Be Adored (all at New York Performance Works); Once A Man, Twice A Boy (Irish Arts Center); Cut To The Chase (NYC Fringe). Workshops: Breaker Morant (DR2), The Gershwin’s ‘Tell Me More’ (New World). As a Director, his work has been seen at Olney Theatre, The Culture Project, The Irish Rep, Metropolitan Playhouse, The Zipper, The Players, New York Performance Works and at Rattlestick’s Exposure Festival.
MARTIN PLATT is a Co-Director of Perry Street Theatricals and has been a Director, Producer, and General Manager in the U.S., U.K. and Europe for over forty years. He was the founding Artistic Director of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, General Director of Birmingham Opera Theatre, and founding Artistic Director of Santa Fe Stages, an international Arts Festival. As a Director his work has been seen throughout the U.S. and Europe. Mr. Platt’s career as a Producer and General Manager began in 1991, as co-director of Fifth Amendment Ltd, a UK based producing company. During 10 years with 5A, he produced over 50 theatre and dance productions, in London’s West End and on tour in the UK, Europe, and U.S. His most recent West End production was the Olivier nominated Lend Me A Tenor The Musical. On Broadway he is currently represented with Dames At Sea and in the 2013-2014 season with the Tony Award winning play, Vanya And Sonia And Masha And Spike. New York his productions have included Bebe Neuwirth in Here Lies Jenny, Treason, and the multi off Broadway award winning productions of In The Continuum and an oak tree.