VIDEO: Guthrie Theater Artistic Director Joseph Haj on THE BACCHAE

By: Mar. 03, 2020

The Guthrie Theater presents The Bacchae, written by Euripides, translated by Aaron Poochigian and directed by celebrated Siti Company co-founder Anne Bogart. The globally renowned acting company's debut on the Guthrie's mainstage offers a rare opportunity for local theatergoers to experience this influential Greek tragedy through a contemporary lens.

Hear more from artistic director Joseph Haj on welcoming director Anne Bogart and this famed ensemble to the Guthrie below!

The Bacchae will run February 29 - April 5, 2020, on the McGuire Proscenium Stage. Single tickets start at $15 for preview performances (February 29 - March 5) and regular tickets start at $25. Tickets are on sale now through the Box Office at 612.377.2224, 1.877.44.STAGE (toll-free) or online at Post-play discussions and access services (ASL-interpreted, audio-described and open-captioned performances) are available on select dates and by request.

In Euripides' tale of hubris and tyranny, a disguised Dionysus descends on the city of Thebes to prove Zeus is his father and settle a score with his mortal adversary King Pentheus. His attempts to tear the people's loyalties away from the king cause a frenzy of emotion that lands Dionysus in prison. But Pentheus' misguided attempt to suppress the god's influence tests his leadership and threatens to bring his family to ruin. With striking visuals and bewitching beauty, Bogart gives this ancient tale a modern, razor-sharp edge.

For more than three decades, Siti Company has redefined and revitalized contemporary theater through its collaborative, groundbreaking work. Artistic Director Joseph Haj was a member of The Acting Company early in his career and recently shared this reflection: "The importance of Anne Bogart in the theater landscape cannot be overstated. The practice that she developed has become training methodology for actors across the country. Watching where Anne and Siti Company were with their work all those years ago and seeing what they have become today is stupendous. Our opportunity to bring their irreverent and smart production of The Bacchae to the Guthrie is a tremendous gift."

This Siti Company adaptation of The Bacchae was commissioned by the J. Paul Getty Museum and first performed at the Getty Villa in September 2018 before playing Brooklyn Academy Of Music's New Wave Festival the following month. This presentation of Siti Company's bold and innovative work marks its Guthrie debut. The Guthrie previously produced The Bacchae in 1987 under the direction of former artistic director Liviu Ciulei.

Critics have praised Bogart's ability to make The Bacchae's ancient themes resonate with modern audiences. The New York Times wrote that its "back-burnered anxieties about women and power feel very front-burnered and very now." To prepare for the production, Bogart spent 18 months studying The Bacchae with a classicist at Columbia University. Siti Company then hosted a four-week workshop with 60 theater artists in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Euripides was the youngest of the three great Greek tragedians and considered highly innovative in his storytelling. His depictions of heroes and gods frequently allowed for humanity and fallibility, and his works often revealed the dark side of human nature. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Bogart said, "I think every great play also asks a great question at its heart. With the Greek plays, and certainly including The Bacchae, the essential question is about hubris. [Euripides] sent us a message in a bottle, and we are able to see an ancient artifact through the lens of our own time."

The cast of The Bacchae includes Akiko Aizawa (Guthrie: debut) as Agave, J. Ed Araiza (Guthrie: debut) as Soldier, Will Bond (Guthrie: debut) as Second Messenger, Leon Ingulsrud (Guthrie: debut) as First Messenger, Ellen Lauren (Guthrie: debut) as Dionysus, Barney O'Hanlon (Guthrie: debut) as Tiresias, Roshni Shukla (Guthrie: debut) as Chorus, Donnell E. Smith (Guthrie: debut) as Pentheus, Samuel Stricklen (Guthrie: debut) as Chorus and Stephen Duff Webber (Guthrie: debut) as Cadmus.

The creative team for The Bacchae includes Anne Bogart (director), Aaron Poochigian (translator), Brian H Scott (scenic and lighting designer), Lena Sands (costume designer), Darron L West (sound designer), Erik Sanko (composer), Ellen M. Lavaia (company manager), Alyssa Escalante (production stage manager), Nana Dakin (assistant director), Addie Gorlin (Guthrie assistant director), Joey Guthman (assistant scenic and lighting designer), Helene Foley (dramaturg), Norman Frisch (dramaturg), Kelly Maurer (choral consultant), Gian Murray Gianino (rehearsal director), Michelle Preston (executive director) and Megan E Carter (producing director).

Anne Bogart (director) is one of the three co-artistic directors of Siti Company, which she founded with Japanese director Tadashi Suzuki in 1992. She is a professor at Columbia University where she runs the graduate directing program. Works with Siti Company include Falling & Loving; The Bacchae; Chess Match No. 5; Lost in the Stars; Persians; Steel Hammer; A Rite; Cafe Variations; Trojan Women (After Euripides); American Document; Antigone; Under Construction; Freshwater; Who Do You Think You Are; Radio Macbeth; Hotel Cassiopeia; Death and the Ploughman; La Dispute; Score; bobrauschenbergamerica; Room; War of the Worlds - The Radio Play; Cabin Pressure; Alice's Adventures; Culture of Desire; Bob; Going, Going, Gone; Small Lives/Big Dreams; The Medium; Noël Coward's Hay Fever and Private Lives; August Strindberg's Miss Julie; and Charles L. Mee's Orestes.

Recent operas include The Handmaid's Tale, George Frideric Handel's Alcina, Antonín Dvořák's Dimitrij, Giuseppe Verdi's Macbeth, Vincenzo Bellini's Norma and Georges Bizet's Carmen. She is the author of five books: A Director Prepares; The Viewpoints Book: A Practical Guide to Viewpoints and Composition; And Then, You Act: Making Art in an Unpredictable World; Conversations With Anne; and What's the Story: Essays About Art, Theater and Storytelling.

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