Envelope Ensemble to Present BACCHAE, 1/25-27
Envelope Ensemble has announced a new musical adaptation of the Euripides classic The Bacchae to be presented in an art and music filled reading January 25-27 at Catland Books, located at 987 Flushing Ave in Bushwick with shows at 9 p.m. on Saturday and 7:30 p.m. on Sunday and Monday.
Bacchae tells the story of a stubborn young king, who seeks order while the rest of his kingdom just wants to revel and praise the hot new god Dionysus. The leader of the god's followers, who is actually Dionysus himself, takes an active interest in the ruler, leading to bloody events.
Playwright Austin Ruffer confronts the audience with repression and suppression of human desires. "Why do we suppress them?" questioned Ruffer. "Repression creates a flammable pocket around an individual; one spark, and a leadership, a career, or a life can be destroyed. The play celebrates human sexuality and expression while also warning against the destructiveness of extremism," stated Ruffer.
The Bacchae is written around and co-orchestrated by nine actor-musicians. "As an actor, musician, singer, dancer, and artist all around, I always approach theatre with all my skills at the ready." said Jenny Founds, who plays the Lead Bacchant as well as the guitar, accordion, and percussion. "'I've never been a part of such a fluid and driven musical process."
Founds and the rest of the cast explore this epic tale alongside the writers, including composer and music producer Neil Douglas Reilly, who is currently working on the orchestrations for the Broadway production of Rocky.
"The music and lyrics Austin and I have written help set the contemporary tone of the piece," said Reilly. "The instrumentation and style of the music helps the characters feel present when they step out to sing."
Continuing with presenting the ritualistic and viticulture (wine driven) nature of art in the time of Ancient Greece, Envelope Ensemble will once again not charge admission but will solicit donations of money, art, or wine.
In this world of lesser gods and ritual practices, Catland Books, a place of new-age worship seems to be the perfect place for the new musical tragedy to begin its journey. "The atmosphere of Catland gives us so much opportunity to explore the elements of otherworldliness present in The Bacchae, joining the people of this world and the next." said director Hunter Johnson.
Instead of a set, a gallery of commissioned pieces pulled from the themes of Bacchae will be displayed alongside audience-made art donations. "All our productions will have a communal vibe between actor and audience," said Envelope Ensemble Artistic Director Charles Quittner.
Envelope Ensemble uses immersive theatricality and pertinent adaptations to reveal new perspectives on familiar stories and themes. The company aims to have its productions financially accessible to audiences all over New York City.
For more information, visit http://www.envelopeensemble.com/.