Elektra, one of Sophocles”™ most elegantly structured and emotionally wrenching works, will be the fifth annual outdoor theatrical production in the Getty Villa”™s Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater. Directed by Carey Perloff, artistic director of the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, the classic Greek tragedy picks up where Agamemnon left off two years ago, following the murder of King Agamemnon.
The production will mark the world premiere of this newly commissioned translation by celebrated playwright Timberlake Wertenbaker.
One of the poet Sophocles’ most elegant and haunting works, Elektra celebrates the human desire for justice, and the costs exacted upon those who seek it and carries forward the tragic history of the House of Atreus. The Argive princess Elektra has witnessed the murder of her father King Agamemnon by her vengeful mother, Clytemnestra, who rules the city with an iron hand, their daughter Elektra lives imprisoned behind the walls of her mother”™s palace. Every day, she prays to the gods that her exiled brother Orestes might return to avenge their father”™s slaughter, and every night, the silence of the gods drives her closer to madness.
Finally, the day arrives: justice is enacted. In this work, Sophocles demonstrates the importance of being careful about what we pray for.
Olympia Dukakis“”Chorus leader
Bonfire Madigan Shive“”Composer/Musical Director
Christopher Barreca“”Scenic Designer
Candice Donnelly“”Costume Designer
Geoff Korf“”Lighting Designer
The role of Chorus leader will be played by Sharon Omi on September 30, 2010.
Believed to have been written near the end of the playwright”™s life, Elektra embodies Sophocles”™ most profound portrait of a fragile human spirit, brilliantly ablaze with the warring, inner flames of hope and despair.
Perloff first directed Sophocles”™ Elektra more than 20 years ago at the Classic Stage Company in New York, the world premiere of a version by poet Ezra Pound. Wertenbaker”™s new translation, specially commissioned for this production, penetrates the emotional complexity not only of Elektra, but of the surrounding characters as well. Her version preserves the formal structure of the ancient language, while at the same time creating a vividly alive “contemporary” royal family pushed to the point of desperation.
The Getty Villa”™s annual outdoor theater performance is part of an innovative theater program that enhances the visitor”™s experience of the ancient world. Live performances of classical drama offer insight into the social, cultural, and political realities of life in ancient Greece and Rome. In the galleries, the works of art serve to deepen the connection between modern audiences and the mythical stories underlying the tragedies and comedies on stage.
In addition to the annual outdoor classical theater production, the Getty Villa”™s indoor auditorium is host to the Villa Theater Lab series and the Villa Play-reading series of performances in the winter and spring that explore innovative approaches to the classical canon.
When paired with the exhibition The Art of Ancient Greek Theater (August 26, 2010 – January 3, 2011) and its related programming, this year”™s outdoor theater performance offers a particularly rich experience for theater-goers. The exhibition will be on view before each evening”™s performance of Elektra.
“The combination of this year”™s outdoor theater performance and our special exhibition on Greek theater will give theater-goers a deeper understanding of the role theater played in ancient times,” explains Karol Wight, senior curator of antiquities for the J. Paul Getty Museum. “Both in the exhibition and throughout the Museum”™s permanent collection, several references to the story of Elektra and the tragedy of the House of Atreus can be seen in the images painted on ancient Greek vases. The play helps bring these two-dimensional images to life for modern audiences.”
17985 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
Thursdays through Saturdays, September 9 – October 2, 2010.
Tickets are $42.00 ($38.00 for students and seniors).
Box office: (310) 440-7300 or online.
Report by Pauline Adamek