The Oedipus Plays, The Shakespeare Theatre at the Athens Festival

Odeon of Herod Atticus, Athens
September 10 and 11, 2003

The Shakespeare Theatre's production of Michael Kahn's single-evening presentation of the Oedipus trilogy, called 'The Oedipus Plays,' was performed in the Odeon of Herod Atticus on the south slope of the Acropolis.

Another view of the theatre

Far right, with castmates on the Odeon stage

Press Release

The Shakespeare Theatre Invited to 2003 Athens Festival in Greece To Present Michael Kahn’s Production of the Oedipus Plays

WASHINGTON, March 5 /PRNewswire/ — The Shakespeare Theatre announced  today that it has been invited and has accepted the offer to perform at the  2003 Athens Festival in Greece to present Michael Kahn’s single-evening  adaptation of Sophocles’ Oedipus trilogy, The Oedipus Plays, on September 10  and 11, 2003.

The most important cultural event in Greece, the Athens Festival attracts  thousands of Greeks and international visitors each year from June to  September for performances of classical music, opera, plays and dance.  Past  participants have included Maria Callas, the New York Philharmonic with  Leonard Bernstein, Rudolf Nureyev, the Kirov and Bolshoi Ballets, Margot  Fonteyn, Martha Graham, Luciano Pavarotti, American Ballet Theatre and the  Royal National Theatre of England.

The opportunity for the Theatre to perform at the Festival developed  through the enthusiastic recommendations of the former Greek Ambassador to the  United States, Alexander Philon, and the Greek Cultural Attache, Connie  Mourtoupalas, who attended performances of The Oedipus Plays when it was  presented during The Shakespeare Theatre’s 2001-2002 season in Washington,  D.C.  The Cultural Section of the American Embassy in Athens seconded their  recommendations, and the Theatre’s performances in Greece are under the  auspices of the U.S. Ambassador to Greece, Thomas J. Miller.

“We are honored to be invited to such a prestigious festival,” said  Michael Kahn, artistic director of The Shakespeare Theatre.  “The performances  allows us to come full circle both artistically and philosophically:  presenting our interpretation of Sophocles’ tragic trilogy at the site of its  provenance speaks to the timelessness and universality of the ancient Greek  themes.  The opportunity is doubly poignant as it gives the Theatre the chance  to present this uniquely American production on the anniversary of September  11 at the cradle of democracy.  This is the same play we were performing two  years ago on September 11—a play of tremendous human tragedy and the  redemptive power of love.”

Kahn’s production, featuring a new translation by Nicholas Rudall, sets  the epic tragedy of Oedipus in ancient Africa, with actor Avery Brooks cast as  Oedipus.  The production begins with the tale of Oedipus Rex, continues 30  years later with Oedipus at Colonus, and concludes with the fate of Oedipus’  children in Antigone.  The three plays trace not only King Oedipus’ tragic  search for the truth but also the fate of his entire family.

At the Athens Festival, The Oedipus Plays will be performed under the gaze  of the Parthenon in the Roman Odeon of Herod Atticus on the south slope of the  Acropolis, just kilometers away from Thebes, the city of Oedipus.  The Odeon  of Herod was the third built in Athens after the Odeon of Pericles and that of  Agrippa. Erected by Herod in memory of his wife, Regilla, the semicircular  theatre seats 5,000 people.

The Shakespeare Theatre’s performances are sponsored by The American  Community Schools of Athens.  Revenues from the performances will be allocated  toward the construction of an Arts Center on the ACS campus, scheduled to open  for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

Heralded as “the nation’s foremost Shakespeare company” by The Wall Street  Journal and “the best classical theatre in the country, bar none” by The  Christian Science Monitor, The Shakespeare Theatre annually produces five  plays in its 451-seat theatre in Washington, D.C.’s Pennsylvania Quarter and  one free play in Rock Creek Park’s 3700-seat Carter Barron Amphitheatre.  Artistic Director Michael Kahn has led the organization for 16 years,  establishing a reputation for artistic excellence on stage as well as a series  of community-minded education programs, and, in 1999, the Academy for  Classical Acting, a one-year MFA Acting program in conjunction with The George  Washington University.  For more information about the Theatre and its  artistic and educational programs, visit The Shakespeare Theatre’s award-winning website at