We are just a day away from the the start of our four part serial, THE THEBAN CHRONICLES – Theater Pub’s largest project to date. Part One, Euripides’ The Phoenician Women, picks up a year after the events of Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex. Jocasta (still alive in Euripides’ version of the myth), laments the tragedy of her family’s past and future as her two sons, Polyneices and Eteocles, ready their armies to fight for control of Thebes. In keeping with the tone of moral ambiguity that separates Euripides from the other two tragedians, more questions are raised than answers are given. Is treachery every justified? Should all promises be kept? Is the life of a family member worth more than the fate of a city? And, perhaps most importantly, is fate or human weakness that perpetuates suffering? In this wonderfully lyrical and often overlooked play by a master of tragedy, we see these existential questions interwoven with a powerful family drama.
Last week, we featured a short segment on the story so far. In preparation for this play, we are going to introduce you to the key players in the first part of the story:
Oedipus (Carl Luciana) – The disgraced king of Thebes. Having blinded himself after learning that he has killed his father and married his mother, Oedipus now lives as a self-imposed prisoner in the royal palace, cursing himself, his family, and especially his two sons, Eteocles and Polyneices.
Jocasta (Stacy Sanders) – Wife and mother of Oedipus, and former queen of Thebes. Shamed by the revelation that she has married her son, Jocasta now lives in mourning in the palace. Now that her sons are on the brink of war, Jocasta, though disgraced, is perhaps the one character capable of brokering a truce.
Polyneices (Bennett Fisher) – The elder son of Oedipus, Polyneices went into voluntary exile so as to share the throne with his brother, Eteocles. After a year passed and Eteocles refused to give up the throne, Polyneices married into the royal family of Argos and has levied an army against his former homeland, demanding his brother’s capitulation.
Eteocles (Stuart Bousel) – The younger son of Oedipus. Eteocles took the throne when Oedipus was disgraced, agreeing to step down after a years time and go into voluntary exile, after his brother Polyneices returned to rule. After a year, Eteocles has refused to share power, provoking the civil war that now threatens to engulf Thebes. Shares his father, and his brother’s, famous short temper.
Antigone (Leigh Shaw) – The elder daughter of Oedipus, though younger than both of her brothers. She shares her brother’s fiery temper, but not their propensity for breaking oaths, but has been largely removed from the family intrigue.
Ismene (Megan Biggs) – The youngest daughter of Oedipus. Milder and more innocent than her sister, Antigone, she too has largely been sheltered from the families tragedy due to her young age.
Creon (Dimas Guardado) – Brother to Jocasta, and member of the original ruling family of Thebes before the arrival of Oedipus. Creon has great political sway in Thebes, and has largely sided with the ruling brother, Eteocles. Prudent though opportunistic, Creon has simultaneously tried to distance himself of the stigma surrounding his sister’s family while taking steps to increase his power and influence.
Eurydice (Rena Webber) – Wife to Creon, and mother of Heamon and Menoeceus. More cautious than her husband, she seems acutely aware of how dangerous trying to profit from the political turmoil can be.
Haemon (Sunil Patel) – Elder son of Creon and Eurydice. Mild-mannered and largely deferential to his father, Creon.
Menoeceus (Ricky Saenz) – The youngest son of Creon and Eurydice. Named for his grandfather, king of Thebes before Laius (Oedipus’ father and Jocasta’s first husband) and Oedipus. Admirably moral and selfless, somewhat unlike his father.
Tiresias (Jay Smith) – A powerful seer, blessed and cursed with the ability to see the future. Somewhat of a social pariah after revealing the true parentage of Oedipus, Tiresias nevertheless continues to hold considerable influence in the city. His prophecies, while always true, are rarely welcome. Wary of the temper of Oedipus and his family, he is often hesitant to share his insight, for fear or repercussions.
The Captain (Vince Faso) – An officer in the Theban armies, serving under Eteocles.
The Phoenician Women (Rosie Hallett, Nirmala Nataraj, Addie Ulrey) – Would be attendants to the Oracle of Delphi, waylaid in Thebes because of the looming civil war. They serve as the play’s chorus.
Who lives? Who dies? Who suffers the worst? Who makes it out ok, all things considered? Come Tuesday night to find out.
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.