Odeon of Herod Atticus, Athens
September 10 and 11, 2003
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 http://www.shakespearetheatre.org.