piece is an enquiery into Dionysia today: how can we view the lore and
obsessions attributed to Dionysus at the end of the 20th century. Where
are the God's 'post-followers' at? How are we all coping with the hangover of
all those parties (wine parties, political parties), where to be called "dyonisian"
was the ultimate compliment: revolutionary and shamanistic, what more
could one ask! Greed satiated! In Euripides' The Bacchae, Agave concludes:
I used to feel like that, especially about The
Bacchae - Dionysus calls for gurus, not theatre directors - until my dear
epicurean friend and mentor, Charles Boer, nudged me along to follow Cadmus' last
lines: "We failed to honour the God". I invited the cast to ask why,
and ask how Dionysus and his divine creatures (bacchantes, satyroi, silenoi, pans)
might be feeling about it all.
My gratitude to Charles Boer for his nudge,
and to Local 116 Ensemble and Aida Croal for a fascinating venture.
A Letter to the cast from the director, after he
was invited to a midnight viewing of the latest Star Wars film
May 21st 1999
"OK lets take the kids gloves off" (quote from the performance): Star
Wars IS the opposite of Dionysus, and SHOULD be the opposite of GREED. Last night's
performance of GREED was a bit slack and some of us lost heart, lost timings,
So here are my thoughts.
Wars is everything I fight against: it is puritanical medieval biggotry (Good
against Evil), it is self-rightious piousness (medieval Franciscan monks - the
Dominicans were 'evil', because rich and cultured, and GREEDY. Who is Count Dracula?
Culture, aristocratic pagan culture! Check his library! That is what all those
Christian peasants down in the village fear so much!), it is anti-cultural integrism
(uneducated puritans), under the guise of technological superiority (I even felt
- colmo del colmo! - ETHICAL about it! How untactfull, I thought, to release this
film during the Kosovo war... It is precisely these technologically superior attitudes
that the anti-american demagogues inflamme. This is where hate against the USA
constellates - and I assure you that I am americanophile, and get into trouble
for it in Europe! - but you Americans must help a little: you cannot simply exult
in this rubbish cathechism! It is these types of posturings and self-congratulatory
moralisms that made Saddam Hussein almost sympathetic, as the WASPS came down
to punish, once more, the whore of Babylone (Badgad after all!). Terrible. (The
way Lucas attacks Bureaucracy and "the Senate" are SO questionable!
Stupid cowboy anti-democracy!)
worse, to complete the Christian biggotry, you get the genius bambino: that silly
brat blondie Jesus cum Bill Gates aged 10, David beating Goliath (it is disastrous
idiocy to knock down the giants of culture, while sucking their prestige, with
all that Rennaissance architecture in the film). And worse, the teen-age queen
- the fake morality virgin. Despicable! And God the father as a green wise 'facilitator'.
worse, once again, Dionysus and Pan get thrown down to Hell! How long are we going
to keep buying this miserable Christian myth? It will KILL YOUR PERFORMANCE! The
new red-faced, multi horned Evil guy is Pan, quite simply. Who is going to start
reverting things? The Adam's Family? Adam's Family! (note: Adam Reynolds plays
the blind Dionysus in the performance). Can't you see you are emotionally caught
in a cheap morality myth? Oh, dear. Its everywhere. Go see the massive statue
above Morningside - go see it ! There is Pan, decapitated by the "Force of
Good" - a crab, of all choices, and gentle giraffes! Lower down in the park,
another Pan has been safely infantilized (Peter Pan), carefully emasculated, like
"Evil IS Culture" is what I
feel like saying to sum up my anger. "Education", etymologically even,
is right there with "perversion". And your JOB is to keep that performance
UP, to keep the audience there, laughing, and ENTERTAINED (entertaining ideas!),
and delivering the challenging thoughts. Yes, after Cindy Sebrell's quote: "I've
never felt quite so sober after a performance (about Dionysus!)" - Rosemary
Quinn gave us another great quote: "I was laughing and enjoying myself until
a moment came - I was still laughing - when I jolted and realized I was being
asked to really SMARTEN UP!"
can certainly quote this; pin it up in the lobby. Go for it!
Local 116 Theatre Ensemble
was founded by eight members of the graduating class of Columbia University MFA
Acting program. GREED: The Bacchae Project is their premiere production.
design is by David Martin (The Tempest, Hampton Shakespeare Festival)
Lap Chi Chu (Shopping & F***ing, New York Theatre Workshop)
and Elizabeth Gaines were responsible for light design.
by Rick Gradone (Ashes to Ashes, Atlantic Theatre).
The Bacchae Project features a cast including Maha Chehlaoui,
Bridgit Evans, Joanna Falk, Alanna Medlock, Adam Reynolds, Margi Sharp, Sophia
Skiles, Dario Tangelson and Andrew Welsh.
Chairs included Tony Award-winning actress Cherry Jones, Stage
directors Andrei Serban and Robert Woodruff,
writer/psychologist James Hillman, performer/author Agapi
Stassinopoulos and artist Margot McLean.