In preparation for our production of THE THEBAN CHRONICLES, we asked the four directors for a statement about their process. Maryanne Olson, director of Oedipus at Colonus, had this to say:
“Ancient Greek theater, Shakespeare – all of those plays that have been designated as “classic” – have been too often reframed in contemporary times as highly intellectual, distancing pieces of art to be consumed and enjoyed only by the “intellectually elite.” What we too often forget is that these plays are at their heart, about the human experience and perhaps even more importantly, were written for sheer entertainment – whether as part of a Greek festival honoring Dionysus, or to draw in hordes of audiences to the Globe. Drinking, carousing, and audience interaction were par for the course at these play’s original presentations, and too often contemporary restagings of classic work emphasize the distance between our world and “theirs.”
I’m excited to work with SF Theater Pub for the first time; since it started, I’ve felt that it is the closest form of theater we get to the festival spirit of “classical times.” I’m also thrilled to have the opportunity for the first time to delve so deeply into Oedipus at Colonus, which I often feel is the most overlooked of the Sophocles Oedipus Cycle plays. True, it lacks the perfect tragic structure of Oedipus Rex and the strong female characters and conflict of Antigone, but it’s always secretly been my favorite of the three. In Oedipus at Colonus we get to see something rarely seen in Greek tragedies – a fallen hero finding peace at the end of his days not through battle or great feats, but by coming to terms with his life and his journeys. And of course, like any good Greek theater, it’s not still without its hostage-taking, oratory conflicts, suspense, and invocation of the gods.
So come on in, sit back, and watch one of the greatest journeys in mythical history come to an end. And don’t forget to grab a beer or glass of wine on your way in – it’s what the Greeks would have wanted after all.”
Maryanne Olson is a freelance dramaturg living in the Bay Area. Past dramaturgical work includes 1001 (Just Theatre), Current Nobody (Just Theatre), said Said (Marin Theatre Company), and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Hartford Stage). Past new play development work includes staged readings/workshops of Josh Costello’s Little Brother (SF Playhouse Sandbox Reading Series), Julia Jarcho’s American Treasure (Bay Area Playwrights Festival), Marisela Trevino Orta’s American Triage (Marin Theatre Company), Jen Silverman’s Crane Story (Bay Area Playwrights Festival), Erin Bregman’s Dora’s Rhapsody (Just Theatre), Sam Hunter’s I Am Montana (Bay Area Playwrights Festival), and Sekou Sundiata’s The America Play (New WORLD Theater). She is a member of Just Theatre Company. She received her MFA in dramaturgy from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
THE THEBAN CHRONICLES opens with Euripides’ The Phoenician Women directed by Meg O’Connor on June 15 at the Cafe Royale (Post and Leavenworth, San Francisco). 8pm show, admission is free.