Thursday, August 28

A Strife to End in Blood

Every September the Villa puts on a production of an ancient Greek or Roman play. They rotate between a comedy and a tragedy, and this year the production is Agamemnon by the ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus. Agamemnon is one play in Aeschylus's Oresteia, a cycle of three plays that includes The Libation Bearers and The Eumenides. The play takes place after Agamemnon, king of Mycenae, returns home after defeating the Trojans. One of the themes of the play is ambivalence the Greeks felt about the Trojan war--yes, they won the war, but at an incredible cost of life. Then, of course, there is the drama within the house of Agamemnon, who returns home to find an adulterous wife who also hold a grudge against him for sacrificing their virgin daughter to the goddess Artemis so that she would halt the fierce sea winds and allow the fleet of Greek ships to sail for Troy.

My fellow teacher Sabina & I at the performance--it was pretty dark by then!

I enjoyed very much sitting outside and taking in the warm summer night at the Villa, which is absolutely captivating at night. The experience of the play was great as well. I'd never had a chance before to see a play where no microphones were used, just natural acoustics (which classical theatres were designed to promote). It was hard at times to hear the actors, even in such intimate surroundings, and the descriptiveness of the words was sometimes overshadowed by actors speaking too quickly or by times when lines sort of took a round robin, each actor taking one line of one speech. In those instances I lost the words in favor of trying to figure out who was speaking. So there were drawbacks to the production, but the last fifteen minutes were worth the whole hour and forty. Francesca Faridany, who played the mad Cassandra, a woman turned into a tortured oracle by Apollo as punishment for rejecting his attentions, delivered an awesome performance. Then, at the end, when a blood-drenched Clytemnestra (Tyne Daly) burst onto the stage pulling the bloodied and mangled bodies of Agamemnon and Cassandra behind her, it was pretty awesome. Tyne Daly makes a very convincing wild-eyed homicidal maniac.

The Classical Theatre and stage earlier in the day.

It ended up being a late night, but fun nonetheless. What I saw tonight was actually the very first performance, so I look forward to catching some of the matinees later on in September so I can see how the actors' performances evolve over the course of the run.

1 comment:

  1. sounds fun :D i never did get to see a play in the villa's theater.