Photo Flash: The Classical Theatre of Harlem Presents THE BACCHAE
The Classical Theatre of Harlem kicks off its 20th Anniversary Season with a FREE outdoor production of The Bacchae. Inspired by Bryan Doerries' new version of Euripides' classic Greek tragedy and directed by CTH Associate Artistic Director Carl Cofield, The Bacchae will be performed in the Richard Rodgers Amphitheater in Harlem's Marcus Garvey Park (18 Mt. Morris Park West, enter the park at 124th and 5th Avenue and walk south to the venue) through Sunday, July 28th (performances are Tuesday through Sunday at 8:30 pm).
The Opening is tomorrow, Thursday, July 11th at 8:30 pm.
Back for its seventh summer season of free theater performances, affectionately known as the "Uptown Shakespeare in the Park," the Classical Theatre of Harlem (CTH), established in 1999, is thrilled to return to Marcus Garvey Park with a work that continues the company's investigation of the current political and social climate via the Greek classics.
Set in the modern era, Dionysus (God of wine and ecstasy) returns to his hometown in order to clear his mother's name and punish the insolent city for not allowing its citizens to worship him. The clash between Dionysus, played as a modern-day rock star, and his cousin Pentheus, the uncompromising and moralistic king of the city, examines the consequences of a general public that blindly follows two vastly different leaders. Dionysus represents unbridled freedom and excess while on the other end of the spectrum, Pentheus epitomizes excessive law, order and rigidity. As society slides into fear and tribalism, its citizens' rationale becomes clouded as they blindly take orders and pick sides rather than seek moderation and rationality.
CTH's interpretation is a lush and modern version of the classic Greek tragedy that tackles the ills of a culture obsessed with celebrity worship, social media and fear of the other, causing people to lose the ability to see the truth -- that people in power are fallible -- until it's far too late.
An updated version that is suitable for older children (10 and up), CTH's adaptation of The Bacchae accomplishes a fidelity to the original while giving the company the flexibility to showcase the ways in which ancient ideas have taken center stage in the current political and social climate. Calling on the cultural landscape of African American traditions, while adhering to the Greek tragic form, this fresh reimagining of the classic story will captivate, stun and inspire audiences from all backgrounds.
The company of The Bacchae includes Jason C. Brown (as Dionysus; The Misanthrope, Duchess of Malfi), RJ Foster (as Pentheus; Nell Gwynn at Folger Theatre, A Small Oak Tree Runs Red), Brian D. Coats (as Tiresias; The Brothers Paranormal, Fences at Florida Repertory Theatre), Gabrielle Djenné (as Chorus Member), Brian Demar Jones (as Messenger), Charles Bernard Murray (as Cadmus; Honky Tonk Nights, Dreamgirls), Andrea Patterson (as Aguae), Rebecca Ana Peña (as Chorus); Lori Vega (as Chorus Leader). The ensemble includes Andrew Farella, Malik Reed, and Alicyn Yaffee.
The Bacchae has scenic design by Christopher & Justin Swader, costume design by Lex Liang, lighting designer by Alan C. Edwards, sound design by Curtis Craig, Projections Design by Katherine Freer and Props by Samantha Shoffner. The Production Stage Manager is Ralph Stan Lee.
"The Bacchae is the perfect play to reflect our current political and social atmosphere. Styled like a Quentin Tarantino film with comedic, absurd, tragic, and musical components, this work brings to the forefront ancient ideas that are still relevant to contemporary society," says director Carl Cofield.
"What I applaud about Greek plays is that they are unafraid to question everything we value - including life. This new version of The Bacchae by Bryan Doerries gives us insight into the tension between living our lives by extreme authoritarian order or by indulging in extreme pleasure. We are living in an era where broad, unique distinctions are being made about identity in direct contrast to authoritarian efforts to minimize individualism. This story tells us that the result of either of these extremes leads to consequences from which there is no return," saysTy Jones, Producing Artistic Director of The Classical Theatre of Harlem.
Photo Credit: Richard Termine
Charles Bernard Murray, Brian D. Coates
Brian D. Coates, RJ Foster
Rebecca Ana Pena, Lori Vega, Gabrielle Djenne
Lori Vega, Rebecca Ana Pena, Gabrielle Djenne