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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Alcestis @ WSU (Ogden: Sept 29)

Alcestis: The Best of Wives
Who: Weber State University Honors Program & Department of Performing Art
What: Classical Greek Theatre production: Euripides’ Alcestis
When: Wednesday, 29 September 2010 • 7:30 pm
Where: Wildcat Theater, Shepherd Union Building
Photos: http://www.theatre.utah.edu/greektheatre/productions/Alcestis.html

WSU Honors presents the 40th Annual Classical Greek Theatre Festival production of Euripides’ Alcestis at 7:30 pm Wednesday, 29 September, in the Wildcat Theater, Shepherd Union Building. An “Informance” lecture and slide show will be given by Dr. James Svendsen at 6:30 pm in Fireplace Lounge, just around the corner from the Wildcat Theater. Those attending the lecture should purchase their tickets prior to the beginning of the lecture.

Brief synopsis of Alcestis: King Admetus must die unless someone takes his place. The only person to volunteer is his wife Alcestis. In a cowardly fashion, Admetus allows her to do so. Only after he admits his weakness does his friend Herakles come to the rescue.
From the University of Utah Classical Greek Festival website: “The play celebrates “the best of wives” Alcestis, who willingly gives up her life so that her husband Admetus may live. We hear about her heroic action from the gods, a faithful servant and the chorus and then see her make several demands on her husband before she apparently dies on stage.

“The first movement of the play ends with epitaphs and laments and with the chorus departing from the stage for her burial, a rare occurrence in Greek tragedy. The second movement focuses on the bereaved husband Admetus whose grief and sense of loss are interrupted by the arrival of his good friend Herakles. Herakles is accepted into the house as an honored guest while Admetus’ father Pheres is rejected after a bitter and vicious argument. In the final scene Herakles returns with a veiled woman whom the reluctant Admetus finally accepts with gestures and motifs from the Greek marriage ceremony. Throughout the play Euripides ingeniously conflates wedding and funeral rituals in ironic and comical ways. So many questions remain. Why does Alcestis die for her husband? How virtuous is Admetus? Who is the veiled woman and why does she remain silent?”

Jim Svendsen, professor in the Department of Languages and Literature, serving as classical consultant and dramaturge, describes this year’s production as “Alcestis: The Musical.” Cathy Neff, a freelance composer, has written an original score of 19 pieces for this production, and will be accompanying the touring company. She has blended Greek traditions in music and theater with modern concepts in the score.
“There is something of Hitchcock about Alkestis, with its big sinister house where life becomes so confused with death as to split the architecture in two. Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt features such a house as well as a household of people blind to each other’s realities, blind to their own needs, and a killer at the heart of it all. In Euripides, as in Hitchcock, we know who the killer is from the beginning; suspense is created around the slow transaction of the crime, which is in both cases foiled. Then comes a facile conclusion that ties off the plot but leaves our emotions strangely tangled.” Anne Carson

“By general agreement the Alcestis is a spirited, puzzling, profound, and seriously light-hearted tragicomedy of human existence. Moreover, the beauty and difficulty of the play –its mysterious elusiveness, its puzzling texture and unfamiliar form- can only be understood, I think, by grasping, in all its complicated richness, its peculiar thought and structure. Among extant Greek plays, there is literally nothing like it. For works of similar tone and structure, we must go to late Shakespearean ‘comedies,’ to The Winter’s Tale or Pericles or The Tempest; or, in music, to Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, with its miraculous blend of wit, pathos and farce.” William Arrowsmith

Seating is limited to 220. Tickets are $7/$10 and may be purchased in advance through Dee Events Center Tickets: 1-800-WSU-TIKS or weberstatetickets.com, or at door beginning at 6:00 pm on the night of the performance.

For more information about this production, contact
Caril Jennings, crjennings@weber.edu or 801 626 6431
Jim Svendsen, 801 581 9706 or jim.svendsen@mac.com
Cathy Neff: cathyneff@xmission.com

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