‘The Theban Chronicles’ ends tonight with ‘Antigone’

Our four part series THE THEBAN CHRONICLES and the bloody history of the House of Oedipus comes to a close tonight with Sophocles’ Antigone, directed by Amy Clare Tasker, at 8pm tonight in the Cafe Royale Bar (800 Post Street). Considered one of the finest plays from the golden age of Greek drama, Antigone remains one of the most poignant and moving portraits of empathy, defiance, and justice, but seeing this play in the context of the other three – The Phoenician Women, Oedipus at Colonus, and Seven Against Thebes – the audience is able to appreciate it not just a play of ideas, but the climax of a deeply personal family drama. Antigone’s rebellion and Creon’s tyranny are all the more complex and, ultimately, human when one is able to see the progression of the relationships informed by the distinct voices of each of the three writers. We hope you join us for the final chapter.

‘Seven Against Thebes’ tonight

Join us tonight at 8pm at the Cafe Royale (800 post street) for the third installment of THE THEBAN CHRONICLES, Aeschylus’ Seven Against Thebes directed by Sara Judge.

In the most stylistically distinct play of the cycle – which reads more like an extended poem than a conventional drama – Eteocles and the other Thebans steel themselves for battle as Adrastus, Amphiaraus, Capaneus, Hippomedon, Parthenopeus, Tydeus, and Polyneices (yes, there you go, that’s the seven) march against the city. Aeschylus, himself a veteran of Marathon, flexes his lyrical muscles in this stirring and profound exploration of conflict and hubris, proving that, of the three tragedians, he’s probably the most likely to win a game of bloody knuckles. Aristophanes may have put it best in The Frogs when his Aeschylus, fighting in the poetry slam of his life against fellow playwright and general malcontent Euripides, claims “no one could see that play without wanting to go straight out and slay the foe.”

We hope you show a little restraint after seeing it.

Amy Clare Tasker on ‘Antigone’

With the final two installments of THE THEBAN CHRONICLES coming next week, we approach the two most renown plays in the cycle. Aeschylus’ Seven Against Thebes, though largely overlooked by modern producers, was widely popular when it was written, winning first prize at the City Dionysia. But, even with all its success, the acclaim of Seven Against Thebes pales in comparison to that of the most recognizable title amongst the four plays: Antigone. Sophocles, the author of an estimated 123 plays (of which 7 survive in their complete form), was the most awarded playwright in ancient Greek history. Of the 30 competitions he participated in, historians believe he won 24 first prizes, and second prizes for the remaining 6. Antigone received such praise at the time of its writing that Sophocles was given a generalship and Aeschylus changed the ending of Seven Against Thebes so that it might lead more fluidly into Sophocles’ play. It seems fitting, therefore, that the two plays should be presented side by side on consecutive days.

In spite of its popularity, Antigone presents a distinct challenge to a director since most audiences are more familiar with Jean Anouilth’s famous anti-fascist adaptation, staged in Nazi occupied Paris in 1944 (the most commonly performed version today, but also one that takes great liberties with Sophocles’ original text). In Anouith’s story, there is more of a give-and-take between Antigone and Creon, and perhaps a murkier conclusion. Even those who believe they “know” the play may still find Tuesday’s reading beguilingly unexpected. Director Amy Clare Tasker has this to say:

“Of all four plays presented in this June’s offering of THE THEBAN CHRONICLES, Antigone is perhaps the most recognized – it is the play we have all read in school at one time or another, and we suffered through dry literary dissections of the role of government and religion in a civil society, and the chaos that ensues when man’s law transgresses the gods’ laws. I remember writing my first college essay on the nature of power and the difficulty of pinpointing a definition of the word on which Sophocles’ characters could all agree. Without diminishing the importance of this text as literature, I must confess that I laughed out loud re-reading the etymological findings of my 18-year-old self. What a drab world it would be without theater! Antigone is a compelling story, not a study. Here is this young woman, probably about age 15, who has lost everything. Her family is disgraced; her mother, father and two brothers have died in extreme circumstances. She has just returned from a year living in exile with her father while her younger sister Ismene (more of a bad-ass than we usually give her credit for) has been riding back and forth between the wanderers and the battlefields of Thebes with news for Oedipus. And when everything has finally hit the fan, Antigone has a choice to put the past behind her, marry her betrothed and become queen of Thebes.  Of all the crossroads that these Theban characters face, Antigone’s decision is perhaps the purest, strongest, most selfless, stubborn, and self-aware. Oedipus doesn’t know that Jocasta is his mother when he marries her, nor that Laius is his father when he slays him; Eteocles is a second son motivated by the shining scepter suddenly within his reach; Polyneices acts out of the entitled indignation of having lost the throne he had been groomed to inherit; Creon is a coward Ismene is too afraid to do anything at all, and all the other women simply commit suicide when the going gets too tough (sorry, did I spoil the ending?). Antigone embraces her fate with eyes wide open, knowing full well she will sacrifice her life for what she believes is right. She speaks her mind and stares down both king and executioner. (If only we had such female characters in the modern American Theater!)

I hope you’ll join the Theater Pub on Tuesday, June 29 to enjoy the final chapter of this compelling story – then stay and have a drink with us before you head back to the lecture hall.”

THE THEBAN CHRONICLES continues next week with Aeschylus’ Seven Against Thebes, directed by Sara Judge, and Sophocles’ Antigone directed by Amy Clare Tasker, perform June 28 and 29 respectively. All shows begin at 8pm, and are free to attend.

Oedipus and Ubu

Tonight, we are pleased to present the second installment of THE THEBAN CHRONICLES, Sophocles’ Oedipus at Colonus, directed by Maryanne Olson. In this complex, subdued, character study of a fallen hero searching for a place to rest, Sophocles, with superb subtlety and nuance, hones in on all the intricacies, contradictions, petty pride, and unspeakable offense, that make the house of Oedipus so captivatingly dysfunctional. Curtain is at 8, but we hope you will arrive early and have a beer.

Sitting in our rehearsal yesterday, I was struck by how odd it seems that the beginning of Oedipus at Colonus feels a lot like the end of our July offering at San Francisco Theater Pub, Afred Jarry’s UBU ROI.

UBU ROI incited riots when it was performed in Paris in 1896. Audiences were scandalized by Jarry’s bawdy, nihilistic lampooning of power in excess. I was midway through my translation of the play when we read Stuart’s adaptation of four plays that make up THE THEBAN CHRONICLES in his living room one weekend, and I was struck by how much Pere Ubu resembles the thuggish characters of these plays: Polyneices, who is both naive and abrasive, Eteocles, who is unabashedly currupt, and Creon, a brute using the state as a shield for his own weaknesses.

Discovering that cutting barb, the inner tragedy nestled beneath the playfulness and clownishness of Jarry’s language, has done a great deal to inform my adaptation. UBU promises to be a spirited affair – boasting a host of wonderful comic actors and deejayed by Wait What, whose mash up album The Notorious XX, has received international critical acclaim (learn more at http://www.waitwhatmusic.com/) – but what makes the play so raucous the danger of showing oppressors, of any time and era, for what they really are – foolish, haughty, bullying, and juvenile.

As we move forward with this play and the last two plays of the series, Seven Against Thebes and Antigone, it is striking to see how nobility and power diverge. The humbled Oedipus and the gentle Theseus in Oedipus at Colonus convey more majesty than the warlike Polyneices or Creon. In Seven Against Thebes, Eurydice and the chorus show true bravery in decrying the war. Finally, in Antigone, perhaps the most famous portrait of power and justice, simple decency and humanitarianism proves to be a more forceful weapon than the edicts of the state. In UBU ROI, likewise, the only character worth sticking up for (arguably) is the one who speaks the least – Bougrelas, the rightful heir to the throne, who in his first line recognizes and condemns Pere Ubu for the idiot he is.

Originally, we conceived these two projects – THE THEBAN CHRONICLES and UBU ROI – as contrasting performances: one old and one modern, one tragic and one comic, etc. The more I get into both, the more they seem like two lenses looking at the same object.

-Bennett Fisher and San Francisco Theater Pub

THE THEBAN CHRONICLES continues Monday, June 21 at the Cafe Royale (800 Post Street, San Francisco, at Leavenworth) with a reading of Sophocles’ Oedipus at Colonus, directed by Maryanne Olson. Parts III and IV, Aeschylus’ Seven Against Thebes, directed by Sara Judge, and Sophocles’ Antigone directed by Amy Clare Tasker, perform June 28 and 29 respectively. All shows begin at 8pm, and are free to attend.

‘The Theban Chronicles’ Continues Monday with ‘Oedipus at Colonus’

This Monday, the next installment of THE THEBAN CHRONICLESOedipus at Colonus by Sophocles, directed by Maryanne Olson – picks up a year after the end of Euripides’ The Phoenician Women (Sophocles himself, of course, has his own distinct version of the legend with a few notable differences, but we’ve reconciled those inconsistencies in our adaptation). Since his banishment from Thebes by his son, Eteocles, following the suicides of his wife and mother, Jocasta, and his nephew, Menoeceus, the blind, weak, but still defiant Oedipus has wandered as an exile, guided by his daughters, Antigone and Ismene. Exhausted, he reaches The Temple of the Furies at Colonus, on the outskirts of Athens – perhaps, at long last, a place of refuge. But with civil war still looming over Thebes and Oedipus, though disgraced, a great asset to those vying for power, it is difficult to say whether he will find rest. In this uncommonly introspective tragedy, much quieter and more meditative than most of the canon, Sophocles paints a subtle and moving portrait of a fallen hero.

The cast of characters:

Oedipus (Carl Luciana) – The disgraced king of Thebes, now banished from the kingdom by his son, Eteocles. Having wandered blind, in exile for a year, he is very near the end of his life.

Antigone (Leigh Shaw) – The elder daughter of Oedipus. Having accused her brother Eteocles of cowardice and cruelty, Antigone leaves Thebes with Oedipus to act has his guide, abandoning her intended marriage to Heamon, son of Creon, and relinquishing her claim to the throne.

Ismene (Megan Biggs) – The youngest daughter of Oedipus, who has accompanied him in the first part of his exile. At some indeterminate moment, she has left her father’s side to live in Polyneices’ camp with the Argive army.

Theseus (Charles Lewis III) – King of Athens, the most powerful city-state in Greece. Theseus is a model of chivalry, piety, and graciousness, quite unlike the rulers of Thebes.

Priestess (Jessica Rudholm) – Caretaker of the Temple of the Furies at Colonus and suppliant to the gods.

Creon (Dimas Guardado) – Brother in-law to Oedipus. Creon has great political sway in Thebes, and with the civil war between Oedipus’ sons, Eteocles and Polyneices, sees an opportunity to install himself as king. He resents Oedipus for the deaths of his son and his sister, but understands his potential as an ally.

Polyneices (Bennett Fisher) – The elder son of Oedipus, an exile seeking to supplant his brother, Eteocles, and install himself on the throne of Thebes. Having delayed the invasion a year on account of the deaths of Menoeceus and Jocasta, Polyneices musters his forces once more to march on Thebes.

The Captain (Vince Faso) – An officer in the Theban armies, assisting Creon in his expedition to Athens.

The People of Colonus (Katarina Rose Fabic, Xanadu Bruggers, Danielle Doyle) – Attendants at the Temple of the Furies, they serve as the play’s chorus.

Who lives? Who dies? Who suffers the worst? Who makes it out ok, all things considered? Come Monday night to find out.

THE THEBAN CHRONICLES continues with Sophocles’ Oedipus at Colonus directed by Maryanne Olson on Monday, June 21 at the Cafe Royale (Post and Leavenworth, San Francisco). 8pm show, admission is free.

Director Sara Judge on ‘Seven Against Thebes’

Of all the plays in THE THEBAN CHRONICLES, adapting Seven Against Thebes by Aeschylus proved to be the most difficult. The play’s lyricism and formality makes it more similar to an epic poem than a dramatic tragedy, presenting both a beguiling and demanding challenge for any director. Yet, there is something at the core of Aeschylus’ work, in its commentary about war, ambition, and gender, that resonates as undeniably immediate, in the same way that the language is wonderfully classic. Director Sara Judge had this to offer:

“Taking on the task of directing the staged reading of Seven Against Thebes was a welcomed yet unlikely project for me. I’ve felt most comfortable as a director staging new works with modern language by living writers. However, the challenge and initial uncertainty of being able to envision a compelling reading for this ancient tragedy quickly transgressed into an unexpected and fascinating journey.

It’s difficult to talk about Greek tragedy without getting political.  So much has stayed the same—politics, family and the internal struggles behind the scenes. I thought, in all seriousness, about the possible struggles between George W. and Jeb Bush.  Why wasn’t there more evidence of in-fighting there? Polynices and Eteocles fought brother against brother. Maybe kings have learned how to stay in power. Share with your brother and you both enjoy the spoils of the crown. Battle your brother and risk losing everything.

What fascinates me most about Seven is the role of women in the play. Though rarely in the forefront of our minds, the status of women has been elevated since the times of ancient Greece. Just the fact that I’m writing to you from this platform right now, and I’m free to leave the house for non-religious events tells its own epic story. In fact many critics of the time disapproved of any significant roles for female characters in Greek theater. In my research I found that even, “Plato complains of the dangers of the theatrical impersonation of social inferiors such as women and slaves and of feminine emotions.” What were they so afraid of?

Female characters remained essential in telling these ancient androcentric stories. Female characters allow the audience to more clearly examine the behavior and motives of male characters.  In Seven Against Thebes, the warnings and emotional cries of female voices (the Chorus and Eurydice) create tension by exposing fear and revealing the nature of irrationality inherent in all people. Only women could provoke such investigation into the tenderest parts of humanity. After all, in these ancient times, where women are reproached and sent back into the home for criticizing the war, men very likely would have been killed for treason.

Eteocles’ interplay with the women sheds light on the complexities of his own emotional state and the inner battles he’s fighting in the midst of his greatest ambition—risking death and the destruction of his city to retain the power of the crown. He cries out in frustration, “Where womankind has power, no man can house. Where womankind feeds panic, ruin rules alike in house and city.”  Eteocles denounces “womankind” along with his own fears by rationalizing, “with plans prepared,” in order to move into battle and meet his fate.

Eteocles’ failed attempts at quieting the wailing Theban women and escaping his fate is reminiscent of a game of groundhog at a carnival. There is comedy within tragedy and teetering on that thin line between, humanity is most earnestly revealed. My journey with Seven has led me here.”

THE THEBAN CHRONICLES continues Monday, June 21 at the Cafe Royale (800 Post Street, San Francisco, at Leavenworth) with a reading of Sophocles’ Oedipus at Colonus, directed by Maryanne Olson. Parts III and IV, Aeschylus’ Seven Against Thebes, directed by Sara Judge, and Sophocles’ Antigone directed by Amy Clare Tasker, perform June 28 and 29 respectively. All shows begin at 8pm, and are free to attend.

The Theban Chronicles Begins Tomorrow with The Phoenician Women

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.

Meg O’Connor on ‘The Phoenician Women’

In preparation for her reading of The Phoenician Women, we asked director Meg O’Connor to share some thoughts with us about what drew her to Euripides and to the play. In an email, O’Connor called Euripides a “dream boat” saying he “voice to ancient Greek women, he’s imaginative, he is relevant.” She also had this to say:

“I love that Euripides is always surprising. In his work you find these deeply sincere, heart-breaking, and human scenes. In the case of Phoenician Women, the audience is presented with a mother who wants nothing more than for her family to piece back together, quarreling brothers fighting for power, a father who must decide whether to protect his country, or his son. It is a play about a dysfunctional family, and while we may not relate to all aspects of the play (incest, war, ancient curses), we can surely relate to a brother’s jealousy, a patriot’s pride, or a parent’s love.

I love how Euripides’ does not make it easy for the audience. There is no clear winner or loser in The Phoenician Women. Instead, we are presented with questions. Does Polyneices deserve the crown? Is Eteocles stubborn or protecting his country? Where should Creon’s allegiance lie, to his country or his family? Is he a coward, no matter what decision he makes?

Euripides has distinguished himself from the other two tragedians by writing strong, clever female characters, which is part of what attracts me to this play. Jocasta is sharp. She has been to Hell and back, lost face in front of her country, and yet she can still act with grace and intelligence. Antigone and Ismene refuse to abandon their father, holding their ground. Unlike the male characters, they cannot easily cast off a family member, in spite of how unseemly his past may be. And then we have the Phoenician Women, stuck in war-torn Thebes on their way to Delphi, observing this family, offering their wisdom, and feeling their misery.

Finally, I love Euripides for his imagination. At the end of Oedipus Rex by Sophocles, Jocasta takes her life after she discovers the truth, but Euripides asks us to imagine what would happen if she tried to make it work, if she tried to repair the damage? He gives Jocasta a second chance, but she still meets the same end, forcing us to examine how much tragedy a person can endure.”

Meg O’Connor has recently directed in the BOA festival, as well as the Hidden Classics Reading Series with Cutting Ball Theater. She is a proud member of the Inkblot Ensemble, where her play All’s Fair (co-written with Jess Thomas) premiered with the last summer. Meg serves as the Literary Manager for Cutting Ball Theater and the Administrative Director for the Playwrights’ Center of San Francisco, and will be producing San Francisco Theater Pub’s Pint Sized Plays Festival in August.

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.

The Theban Chronicles: The Story So Far

In preparation for our four part serial THE THEBAN CHRONICLES, we thought it would be helpful for our audience to have some context for the myth. It is important to know, first of, that there is no definite version of the story. Each of the three writers whose plays we use in the series, Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, and undoubtedly all of the other Greek playwrights’ whose work has been lost, have slightly different takes on what happens when, which characters are present, and even who lives and dies. At the end of Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, for example, Jocasta commits suicide, but at the beginning of Euripides’ Phoenician Women (the start of our serial) she is alive and (at least physically) well, and an entire year has gone by since the horrifying revelation. In preparing the serial, we’ve had to reconcile some of these differences between the writers and arrive at a sort of compromise.

That having been said, here’s what you need to know:

The chain of events that reaches its horrifying conclusion in THE THEBAN CHRONICLES begins when Laius, king of Thebes, consults the Oracle of Delphi after being unable to father a child with his wife Jocasta. The Oracle tells Laius that, were he to have a son, the son would kill him and marry Jocasta. In spite of the Oracle’s warning, Laius sires a son by Jocasta. Wary of the prophecy, Laius pins the infant’s ankles together so it cannot crawl, giving it the name Oedipus (“swollen footed”). This done, Laius gives the child to a servant to abandon on a nearby mountain, where it will die of exposure.

The servant cannot bear to kill the child, and instead gives the infant Oedipus to a shepherd from Corinth. The shepherd brings the baby to the court of Polybus, the king of Corinth. Taking pity on Oedipus, the Corinthian royal family adopts him as one of their own, and raises him as a prince.

When Oedipus is an adult, Polybus reveals to him, while drunk, that he is not his real father. When Oedipus asks Polybus again, the king (this time sober) denies it. Oedipus heads to the Oracle of Delphi to learn the truth, and though the Oracle does not reveal who his parents are, she tells him that he will one day kill his father and marry his mother. Worried by the prophecy, Oedipus decides not to return to Corinth and instead heads to Thebes.

On the way to Thebes, Oedipus comes to a crossroad at Davlia where he meets a man driving a chariot. Oedipus and the man get into an argument over who has the right to pass first. The man attacks Oedipus, and Oedipus kills him in self defense. Unbeknownst to Oedipus, this man is his father, Laius, and he has just fulfilled the first part of the prophecy.

Further on down the road to Thebes, Oedipus encounters a monster, the Sphinx, who has been plaguing the city by eating travelers unless they can solve the answer to a riddle – “What walks on four feet in the morning, two feet in the afternoon, and three at night?” Oedipus solves the riddle of the Sphinx  by answering “man” (who crawls as a baby, walks upright as an adult, and uses a cane when old), whereupon the Sphinx kills itself, freeing the city. Hailed as a hero upon entering Thebes, Oedipus is married to the widowed queen, Joscata, and becomes the new king. With Oedipus, Jocasta gives birth to four children – two sons, Polynices and Eteocles, and two daughters, Antigone and Ismene. Oedipus reigns contently for several years, unaware that he has fulfilled the prophecy.

After many years of calm, a plague of infertility strikes Thebes. Concerned for the future of the city, Oedipus sends his brother in-law, Creon, to the Oracle at Delphi to ask for guidance. The Oracle advises that the family consult the seer, Tiresias, to learn the source of the plague.

Oedipus summons Tiresias to Thebes. Tiresias says the plague can only be lifted if the murderer of the last king, Laius, is killed or exiled. Oedipus demands that Tiresias reveal the identity of the killer, but Tiresias refuses. Oedipus presses the seer, until Tiresias, provoked, reveals that Oedipus is the murderer. Oedipus is enraged, convinced that Creon is working in collusion with Tiresias to gain the throne, but as other messengers arrive bearing news pertaining to Oedipus’ past, and Jocasta relates the story of her husbands death, the full truth is revealed. Horrified that he has fulfilled the prophecy by killing his father and marrying his mother, Oedipus is driven nearly insane. He gouges out his eyes and retreats into the royal palace, cursing his family and the city.

With Oedipus no longer fit to govern as king, a power vacuum is created. His sons, Polynices and Etoecles, are wary of the curse their father placed on them – that they would not be able to share rule in Thebes without bloodshed – and Creon, having been passed over once before, now sees an opportunity to reinstall his family on the throne. To escape their father’s curse, Polynices and Eteocles agree to share governance of Thebes, alternating every year with one of the brothers ruling as king and another living in exile. Creon, in turn, sets in motion plans to arrange a marriage between his son, Haemon, and Antigone, the older daughter of Oedipus.

A year passes following the revelation of Oedipus’ disgrace. The curse still hangs upon the city. Oedipus, blind and deranged, wanders the palace, unable to rule but also unable to bring himself to leave. Though a year has passed, Eteocles refuses to give up throne to his brother as promised, and, in response, Polynices marries into the royal family of Argos and raises an army to march on Thebes. Jocasta and her daughters Antigone and Ismene, Creon, his wife Eurydice, and sons, Heamon and Menoceus, Tiresias the seer, and the rest of the city now brace themselves for civil war.

This is the world were The Phoenician Women begins. And the worst is still to come…

-Bennett Fisher and The San Francisco Theater Pub

THE THEBAN CHRONCILES is a four part event opening June 15. All shows are performed at Cafe Royale on Post and Leavenworth in San Francisco. Admission is free.

Part I: The Phoenician Women by Euripides, directed by Meg O’Connor: June 15 at 8PM
Part II: Oedipus at Colonus by Sophocles, directed by Maryanne Olson: June 21 at 8PM
Part III: Seven Against Thebes by Aeschylus, directed by Sara Judge: June 28 at 8PM
Part IV: Antigone by Sophocles, directed by Amy Clare Tasker: June 29 at 8PM

Check back on the site soon for a description of the characters and more exciting announcements from San Francisco Theater Pub

Director’s Statement from Maryanne Olson

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.