The University of Kansas
317-A Murphy Hall
1530 Naismith Drive
Lawrence, KS 66045
Story by Charla Jenkins
LAWRENCE---The University of Kansas Theatre's production of Euripides' "Orestes," performed this summer in an ancient theatre in Greece, will be restaged at KU Aug. 24 and 25. Curtain time is 7:30 p.m. in the Crafton-Preyer Theatre in Murphy Hall.
Dennis Christilles, associate professor of theatre, adapted the script and directed the bi-lingual production, performed in both English and Greek. This new adaptation was developed for this production, which was first performed on July 28 at the Ancient Theatre of Oiniades.
The production is the result of a six-week Study Abroad program in Greece. The KU Summer Theatre in Greece program, which has been running since 1990, involves about 14 students who live and attend classes in the village of Katohi, which is a part of the larger community of Iniades. The classes include instruction in Greek language, history, art and architecture as well as lessons in traditional Greek folk dancing. The group also visits archaeological and historical sites in Delphi, Corinth, Mycenae, Nauplia, Epidauros, Cephalonia, Messolonghi and Athens.
Christilles said "Orestes" was written during a time of strife and unrest in Greece when the Peloponnesian War was draining the resources and morality of Athens.
The story is familiar: Orestes, son of Agamemnon, in order to avenge his father’s death, has murdered his mother, Clytemnestra, and her lover, Aegisthus.
"Our production explores the importance of personal responsibility," Christilles said. "When Orestes is discovered sick and mad six days after he has slaughtered his mother, his sister, Electra, tolerates and cares for him as their city decides their fate. Orestes is eager to find others to blame for what he has done. Apollo, having ordered Orestes to seek revenge (or so he says), seems tohave abandoned him. Orestes attempts to find allies and scapegoats, all the while denying that he did anything more than follow orders."
Euripides’ play is not a tragedy in the classical sense, Christilles said. In many ways, it resembles melodrama, satire and, at times, comedy.
"'Orestes' is a reflection of a world without reason. Everyone complains. Everyone finds fault in others. Responsibility is the burden of others. Orestes’ lack of a moral compass, his denial of personal responsibility and his unbelievable ability to escape justice are issues that resonate even today in more enlightened times."
This summer, the KU students were joined by a 14-member delegation from the City of Lawrence. In 2009, Lawrence and Iniades officially became Sister Cities. The Sister Cities organization, began during the Eisenhower Administration, is an effort to spread understanding between nations. Lawrence has two other Sister Cities, Hiratska, Japan and Eutin, Germany.
Reserved seat tickets for "Orestes" are on sale in the KU ticket offices: University Theatre, 864-3982, and Lied Center, 864-ARTS, and on-line at kutheatre.com. Public tickets are $15, tickets for all students are $10, and senior citizen and KU faculty and staff tickets are $14.
Members of the cast for the Greek production include (listed by name, class, major, parents’ names, high school, and role):
DOUGLAS COUNTY From Lawrence 66044
Stephen G. Adams, senior, classical antiquities and languages major, son of Stephen J. Adams and Judith G. Adams, Perry-Lecompton High School, Messenger One.
JOHNSON COUNTY From Olathe 66061
Collin Stephens, senior, theatre major, son of Dan and Janet Stephens, St. Thomas Aquinas High School, Messenger Two.
From Overland Park 66214
Shaun Dwyer, senior, theatre major, son of Jackie Dwyer and Steve Thompson, Parsons High School, Orestes.
From Overland Park 66222
Hailey Lapin, junior, theatre major, daughter of Todd Lapin, Blue Valley Northwest High School, Helen.
From Shawnee 67217
Shannon Buhler, senior, theatre, daughter of Paul and Sherry Buhler, Shawnee Mission Northwest High School, Electra.
Tim Wilkinson, junior, theatre major, son of Bruce and Lauren Wilkinson, Shawnee Mission West High School, Pylades.
SHAWNEE COUNTY From Topeka 66604
Charlie Stock, senior, theatre major, son of Mark Stock and Sally Fox, Washburn Rural High School, Tyndareus.
From Topeka 66610
Seth Andrew Macchi, senior, film studies major, son of C.R. and Marti Macchi, Washburn Rural High School, Menelaus.
ALABAMA From Mountain Brook 35223
Lauren Dowben, senior, theatre major, daughter of Minerva Dowben and Jonathan Dowben, Mountain Brook High School, Hermione.
CALIFORNIA From Palos Verdes Estates 90274
Stephanie Aristei, senior, theatre performance major, daughter of Stephen Aristei and Fe Fernando, Palos Verdes High School, Woman of Argos One.