2018 NYC Warrior Chorus | Photos by Daniel Gorman

2016 NYC Warrior Chorus

(from L to R) Phil [US Army], Dar Lilly [US Navy], John [USMC and US Army], Caleb [USMC], Dan [USMC], Dan G. [US Navy], Ed [USMC], Brian [US Army], Michael [USMC], Jenny [US Army], James (USAF), Johnny [US Army], Richard [US Army]. Photos: Dan Gorman.

Program Coordinators

Peter Meineck - Program Director

Peter 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.  His recent publications include  Theatocracy: Greek drama, cognition and the imperative for theatre, published by Routledge and Combat Trauma and the Ancient Greeks, which he co-edited 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/StoriesAncient 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 Lieutenant Firefighter and EMT in Westchester, NY.

Desiree Sanchez - Artistic Director, NYC

Desiree Sanchez (Program co-director) directed Aquila’s 2017/2018 tour of Hamlet and Sense & Sensibility. She also directed and co-wrote Aquila’s production of Our Trojan War at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and on its American tour in the Spring of 2017. She directed and adapted Aquila’s 2016/2017 production of Much Ado About Nothing, and directed and adapted Aquila’s 2015/2016 productions of Romeo and Juliet, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Philoctetes. Past productions she has directed and adapted include: The Tempest and Wuthering Heights for the 2014/2015 season, 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 2012/2013 season, Herakles at BAM in March 2013 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 2011/2012 season, and Six Characters in Search of an Author for the 2010/2011 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 including 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 Byrd/The Group, Sean Curran, Gelsey Kirkland, Bill T. Jones, Heidi Latsky, Eun Me Ahn in Korea, and Robert La Fosse. 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, and has a Certificate of Movement Therapy from The New School. 


John Meyer - Program Coordinator and Group Leader NYC 2018

J. M. Meyer works a playwright-performer in Austin and New York. His work as a playwright and an actor has been featured in the Austin Chronicle, The Austin American-Statesman, KUT radio, and the BBC online. His stage play "American Volunteers" won the 2010 Mitchell Award at the University of Texas, and subsequently made the long-list for the Dylan Thomas Prize in the United Kingdom. He performed at the White House thanks to Aquila Theatre's ongoing outreach program, "Ancient Greeks/Modern Lives," and later performed in Our Trojan War and Philoctetes. His plays have also received support from The Great Plains Theatre Conference, the Cohen New Works Festival, Austin Scriptworks, University Co-Op, and Frontera Fest. Johnny is also a US Army Airborne Ranger.


Neath Williams - Program Coordinator and Group Leader

US Navy ‘99-’09, US Navy Reserves ‘09-Current)  actor/writer/director based in NYC. Creative Director of Society of Artistic Veterans and honored partner of Aquila Theater Company and the Warrior Chorus program.


Jenny Pacanowski - Group Leader NYC 2018

Jenny Pacanowski is a poet/combat veteran/facilitator/public speaker/actor/curator.In the Army while deployed to Iraq, Jenny was a combat medic and provided medical support for convoys with the Marines, Air Force and the Army. She also did shifts in the Navy medical hospital. In Germany, she was part of a medical evacuation company. Jenny was most recently named the Creative Artistic Liaison at the One Fight Foundation which includes facilitating writing workshops and curating The Veterans Special. She collaborates with Impact Theatre, Bedlam Outreach, Intersections International, CUNY, Ithaca College, Syracuse University, Poetic Theater Productions, Aquila Theatre and The Military Resilience Project along with many other organizations. In this past year, Jenny has founded and is the director of FVET; Female Veterans Empowered to Transition which is held at Camel’s Hump Farm in Bethlehem, PA.  Jenny is the Associate director of Impact Theatre: The Veterans project which is currently collaborating with the One Fight Foundation.Jenny has performed at the Lincoln Center Atrium, The New York Cultural and Ethical Society, Poetic License: Kicking down Doors, Veterans Special; Impact theatre Salon at the Lucid Body House, LaGuardia Community College Veteran Week and Aquila Theatre@ GK arts center. She has been published in, “The War Horse,” “Reflections; Public Rhetoric, Civic Writing and Service Learning,” “Journal of Military Behavioral Health,” “The Indypendent, online magazine,” “The I’mpossible Project,” and multiple poetry anthologies. In March 2017, Jenny co-wrote in the Production of Our Trojan War by Aquila Theatre at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in which her contribution was Circe’s story.  As a veteran herself, Jenny’s goal is to help veterans and civilians by healing the wounds of war and military culture through the arts.  Jenny hopes by creating smoother reintegration programs; it will facilitate lowering the suicide, homelessness and addiction epidemics that plague our veterans.  


Dan Murphy - Group Leader NYC 2018

Dan Murphy is a writer living in New York City. His fiction has appeared in Nine Lines and Wrath-Bearing Tree, and he is currently and fiction MFA candidate in NYU's Creative Writing Program. Dan is also a former US Marine who served in Iraq.

Dr. Mattia Roveri (Program Scholar)

Dr. Mattia Roveri is a Visiting Scholar at the Italian department at NYU working on the cultural impact of the military and also an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Italian culture at Queens college, CUNY. In addition to academia, he has previously taught in NYC community centers and prison facilities (Bedford Hills and Rikers Island). Mattia received his PhD in Italian studies from St Andrews (UK) in 2016 with a thesis that focused on the cultural dimension of the military in Italian literature. Previously, he studied in Italy, Austria, Germany and the UK. Since coming to New York, Mattia has expanded his interest in the military outside the Italian context and has started two new projects that look comparatively at the military experience in the US and Italy. He has working papers on the the impact of the military on fashion and the role of gender in recent debates about the military institution.

Melinda Powers - Program Scholar NYC 2018

Melinda Powers is an Associate Professor in the English Department at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Her interests include historiography, performance theory, contemporary theater, and ancient Greek literature, especially ancient Greek drama and its reception. She has published articles and reviews on the production and adaptation of ancient Greek theater, and her book Athenian Tragedy in Performance:  A Guide to Contemporary Studies and Historical Debates was published by University of Iowa Press in 2014. Currently she is working on a monograph Diversifying Greek Tragedy on the Contemporary US Stage which will be published by Oxford University Press in August of 2018. 

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Daphnie Sicre - Program Scholar NYC 2018

Dr. Daphnie Sicre is an assistant professor in the Speech, Communications and Theatre Arts Department at Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY, where she teaches courses in theatre, social justice, and advanced public speaking. She also teaches Latinx Theatre and Arts and Social Justice at Marymount Manhattan College. Focusing on Afro-Latinx performance, she completed her Ph.D. at New York University in Educational Theatre in 2017. Before that, she received her M.A. in Educational Theatre also from NYU, an M.A. in The Teaching of Social Studies from Columbia University, and holds a B.A. in Journalism, History & Theatre from Lehigh University. Her New York City directing credits include various adv. playwriting productions for Marymount Manhattan College, Shower Me at the FringeNYC and Stranger for Stage Black, where she won the Best Director award. Additional: the AUDELCO nominated Not About Eve, the workshop production of PLAY/DATE, Wombanhood, NYC Premier of Collateral Bodies, and NuYork Pastorela. For over ten years, she directed over 20+ productions (such as Living On, Death of Black Jesus, The Face of Emmett Till, Milestones of Blackness/ A Woman Called Truth, and God’s Trombone) with high school students. Recent dramaturg credits include the BMCC production of The Future Freaks Me Out as well as, Dying is An Art (365 Women Project), Stanger (StageBlack), Shower Me (Columbia University & FringeNYC), The Strawberry Project (Yang Tze Repertoire Theatre of America), Whombanhood (Rachel Brill/NYC), Alice: The Looking Glass Girl (NYU), Not About Eve (Bratta Productions), Dirty Dealing (New World. Raised in Madrid, Spain, but born in Guayaquil, Ecuador to Peruvian and Spanish parents, she shares a deep passion for discovering multiple Latinx and African-American perspectives in theatre.

AustiN, Texas Warrior Chorus

Bart Pitchford: Program Coordinator 2016/2017/2018

Bart Pitchford is a PhD candidate in Performance as Public Practice and a Teaching Excellence Fellow for 2015-2016. His dissertation will examine the intersection of performance and citizenship with displaced Syrians living in Jordan. On a broader scope Bart is interested in locating diacritic markers of post-national citizenship in cultural performance. Prior to entering the PhD program at University of Texas Bart was stationed as a soldier in the A CO 8th MISB 4th MISB (Military Information Support Group) at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. During his 8 years in Psychological Operations, Bart deployed to Baghdad, Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom; Sana’a, Yemen and Islamabad, Pakistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. His work in the military led Bart to write about Islamic representation in U.S. propaganda efforts during Operation Iraqi Freedom. 

 Bart received his MA in Theatrical Sound Design and his BA in Theatre at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, LA. He also served as the Technical Director, Theatrical Facilities Manager, and Theatre Appreciation Instructor at Northwest Missouri State University; Sound Designer at Young Abe Lincoln Theatre in Indiana; and Technical Director of Foothills Theatre in Nevada City, CA. Currently he is working on an article that examines militarization through the alternate reality game Ingress. The most important work in Bart’s life, however, is his role as a parent and spouse to an amazing and supportive family.

Professor Tom Palaima: Program Scholar 2016/ 2017/2018

Tom Palaima, a Macarthur fellow (1985-1990), is the Robert M. Armstrong Centennial Professor of Classics and director of the Program in Aegean Scripts and Prehistory (PASP) at the University of Texas at Austin. He has held three Fulbright fellowships (Greece 1979-80, Austria 1992-93 and Spain 2007). 

He was an active participant in Austin, New York and Los Angeles in the Ancient Greek Modern Lives NEH project. He has written and lectured widely on human creative responses to war and violence. Recent topics include the war poems of Robert Graves; violence in ancient Greek literature; the kinds of war stories, ancient and modern, that appeal to combat veterans; and the modern literary use of classical writing about warfare. His “War Stories Told, Untold and Retold from Troy to Tinian to Fort Campbell” was the featured cover article in Arion 23:3 (2016) 1-33. 

Warrior Chorus: Humanities in Action 2015-2017

Maurice Decaul - NYC Program Coordinator for 2016  Program

Maurice Emerson Decaul MFA (NYU), a former Marine, is a poet, essayist, and playwright, whose writing has been featured in the New York Times, The Daily Beast, Sierra Magazine, Epiphany, Callaloo, Narrative and others. His poems have been translated into French and Arabic and his theatrical works, Holding it Down and Sleep Song, collaborations with composer Vijay Iyer and poet Mike Ladd, have been produced and performed at New York City’s Harlem Stage, Washington DC’s Atlas Intersections Festival, in Paris and in Antwerp. His play Dijla Wal Furat, Between the Tigris and the Euphrates was produced in New York City by Poetic Theater Productions in the winter of 2015. Maurice is a graduate of Columbia University. He graduated from New York University in the spring of 2015 and will is now working toward his MFA in playwriting at Brown University.

James Collins - LA Program Scholar 2016 

James Collins PhD (Stanford) is Assistant Professor of Classics at the University of Southern California. He has staged nearly a dozen productions of ancient Greek tragedy and comedy, and is co-editor of The Enigmatic Context: Approaches to Greek Drama (Cambridge Journals-Ramus 2013). His research focuses on the daily, practical, and social aspects of philosophy and other intellectual pursuits. He is co-founder and director of the interdisciplinary Philosophical Stages program which develops strategies for introducing people of all walks and ages to philosophy as active, often public disciplines through dramatic and rhetorical training and performance. He is a Harvard Fellow at the Center for Hellenic Studies.

Nathan Graeser - LA Program Coordinator 2016 

Nathan Graeser has been in the military for 14 years, including the last three years as a chaplain with the Army National Guard. Since graduating from the University of Southern California he has worked at USC's Center for Innovation and Research on Veteran's and Military Families administering the Los Angeles Veterans Collaborative, a network of more then 250 organizations and stakeholders who work collectively to identify and resolve local veteran's needs.

Advisory Board

Kristen Rouse is a captain in the Army National Guard, deployed to Afghanistan in 2006-2007, 2010 and 2012. She is a logistics planner with the New York City Office of Emergency Management and also a member of the Truman National Security Project Defense Council. She writes at  and has written on veteran’s affairs for the New York Times, New York Daily News, Daily Beast and for NPR’s, The Takeaway.

Brian Delate is a Film, Television and Theatre actor and playwright. He served in the Air Cavalry in Vietnam in 1967-8 and is very active in veteran’s causes and organizations. Brian is also on the board of the Actor’s Center in New York.

Michael Castelblanco was honorably discharged as a SSgt in the United States Marine Corps in October 2011, Michael Castelblanco served eight years on active duty (2003-2011) and one year in the reserves (2011-2012). Michael is also a recipient of the 2014-15 John D. Solomon Fellowship, serving as a Fellow with the NYC Department of Emergency Management as a member of their Emergency Management Unit. In addition to his work with Society of Artistic Veterans, Michael also serves on the Advisory Board and volunteers his time for the veteran non-profit organization Stand Beside Them.

Matthew S. Santirocco is Senior Vice Provost for Undergraduate Academic Affairs at New York University. His research focuses on Greek and Roman literature. He founded and directs NYU's Center for Ancient Studies, which promotes interdisciplinary and cross-cultural study of the past. He is currently editor of the journal, Classical World. Dr. Santirocco holds a B.A. from Columbia University, a B.A. and M.A. from Cambridge University, and an M.Phil. and Ph.D. from Columbia University.

Mary Kay Gamel is Professor of Classics, Comparative Literature, and Theater Arts at the University of California, Santa Cruz, has staged more than twenty productions of ancient Greek, Roman, and medieval drama, often in her own translations and versions. She has published articles on staging drama, is co-author (with Ruby Blondell, Nancy Rabinowitz, and Bella Vivante) of Women on the Edge: Four Plays by Euripides (Routledge, 1999), and is at work on a book examining concepts of authenticity in staging ancient drama.