An event in Brooklyn aimed to open up the community dialogue on gun violence in a star-studded way. NY1's Angi Gonzalez has more on how theater and some famous faces are helping kick off the conversation.

An intimate audience of about 50 people gathered in Brooklyn on Saturday night for a table reading of the classic Greek play "The Madness of Hercules," featuring Academy Award nominee Paul Giamatti.

It was a role that the Brooklyn-native took on not for money or acclaim, but in the hopes of sparking a conversation among community members about gun violence, and putting the issue center stage.

"They are actually some of my favorite things to do, because they are really intimate, because they are really emotional and basic," Giamatti told me. "You feel like you're actually really doing something useful."

Theater of War Productions organized the event, using a basketball court at the Van Dyke Community Center to host the performance. It chose Brownsville as the backdrop for a conversation about the issues from the play that still resonates today.

"There's something about theater, there's something about the power of an ancient play that portrays human suffering in this really direct way that grounds the ethical discussion you know we all need to be having," said Bryan Doerries of Theater of War Productions.

Although it took place outside of his district, Brooklyn City Councilman Jumaane Williams also participated in the reading, taking his love of acting and turning it into another way he can give back. 

"It's always interesting to hear the conversations after the play and hear how it touched people," Williams said "I actually hear things oftentimes that I never thought I would hear."

That's also the reason why the commanding officer from the NYPD's 73rd Precinct took on an acting role in the play. It was something out of his comfort zone but in line with the department's community policing initiative to get out into neighborhoods in different ways.

"Just fulfilling the dream the commissioner has that the police and the community join together and endeavor to do projects together," NYPD Inspector Commanding Officer Rafael Mascol said.

The event was just one of many more like it that will take place in the coming months and in a variety of forums, each time with different actors expected to take part. To find out more, go to