Greek Chic: Adapter Stuart Bousel Discusses ‘The Theban Chronicles’

So the question is, why the Oedipus plays at Theater Pub? Why, when the objective of a theater company in a bar is to be informal and entertaining, would you choose to do something both incredibly ancient and perhaps not immediately accessible to the beer and pretzel crowd?

Well, for starters, it’s important to always remember that Greek Theater and drinking basically go hand in hand and have for thousands of years: the drama was born in a festival atmosphere, as much a part of the worship of the god of drinking as it was the god of poetry, an attempt to marry the Dionysian and the Apollonian elements of our nature. Therefore a bar might in fact be the most appropriate setting for a Greek tragedy, if it is for any kind of theater at all. Secondly, when we first sat around discussing the prospect of a Theater Pub, one of the earliest suggestions from our hosts at Café Royale was to do some kind of serialized theater piece- something that would move from episode to episode, like a soap opera, building on itself progressively. The Greeks, with their love of family drama, political intrigue and scandal, life or death plot lines and obsessive, passionate heroes, were a natural place to look for long-form material, and the Oedipus saga, one of the few myths that every extant Greek writer felt a need to weigh in on, was an obvious fit when it came to picking a story both familiar and mysterious all at once.

It’s total speculation why we never get bored of this legend, but Freudian symbolism aside, I personally found, in the course of adapting four interwoven but still disparate classic plays – The Phoenician Women by Euripides, Oedipus at Colonus by Sophocles, Seven Against Thebes by Aeschylus, and Antigone by Sophocles – into one long story, that the world of Oedipus, Creon, Antigone and Ismene is a haunting one that easily captures the imagination. All the elements of a good story are there: the shining and cosmopolitan city in the midst of a rambling, wild countryside with a history of ferocious creatures roaming the hills and gods walking amongst men; an exiled prince leading a band of mercenaries on a five year deathmarch against his own homeland; the sister princesses traveling by horseback and foot from one kingdom to the next seeking asylum and intervention from virtuous kings, corrupt aristocrats and dispassionate prophets. Seen as a collective whole- The Legend of Thebes- and not just in its individual parts- Oedipus Rex or Antigone for instance- the saga really has more in common with Lord of the Rings than it does with “Days of Our Lives” and yet both find their roots in this ancient drama. One is a story of a society plunged into peril by destiny and one or two bad decisions; the other is a tale of squabbling families connected by romantic and political ties that only intensify as the various members attempt to escape; the Theban Chronicles, as I’ve taken to calling our epic soap opera, is both.

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

Auditions for ‘The Theban Chronicles’

The San Francisco Theater Pub’s June show is a serial-reading of four plays making up THE THEBAN CHRONCILES: The Phoenician Women, Oedipus at Colonus, Seven Against Thebes, and Antigone shown on four separate nights in June.

We’re looking for roughly 30 actors to participate in this unique experience. Each show will be presented as a concert reading at Cafe Royale and will run about 50 minutes. Some actors (like Creon and Antigone) will perform in all four readings, others will perform in just one or two.

There is a (very) modest stipend and rehearsal times will be light and flexible.

Please join us in this exciting theatrical experience and a chance to play some of the most memorable characters in Ancient Greek theater!

If you interested in auditioning, please send headshot and resume to with “Audition” in the subject line by May 6th. Please note any time conflicts and we’ll send you an audition time slot.

May 8: 12-3
May 10: 7-10
141 Taylor Street, SF (Between Turk and Eddy – Cutting Ball’s Office Space)


The Phoenician Women directed by Meg O’Connor: June 15 at 8PM
Oedipus at Colonus directed by Maryanne Olson: June 21 at 8PM
Seven Against Thebes directed by Sara Judge: June 28 at 8PM
Antigone directed by Amy Clare Tasker: June 29 at 9PM

San Francisco Theater Pub Announces Programming for June and July

Before AUDIENCE opened on Tuesday night, San Francisco Theater Pub co-founder Stuart Bousel introduced our June and July programming for our 2010 season. We will be announcing the rest of the season, which features new material every month of the year, bit by bit before performances of AUDIENCE, so be sure to attend to hear the new first.

For June, Stuart Bousel has conceived THE THEBAN CHRONICLES – a four part dramatic reading “mini-series” centered on the House of Thebes, starting with the banishment of Oedipus and ending with the death of Antigone. Drawn from four classic Greek plays by Euripides (The Phoenician Women), Sophocles (Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone), and Aeschylus (Seven Against Thebes), the reading will showcase a compelling four part drama, that honors its three literary sources and their distinct voices. By condensing each episode to less than an hour, we strive to create a compelling, character driven narrative that will appeal to all audiences. The scope of the project is impressive: thirty actors, four directors, four nights in three weeks. If you are a lover of the classics, this is not an event to miss. If classics are not quite your thing, what better venue to change your mind about Greek theater than a bar?


June 15: Phoenician Women

June 21: Oedipus at Colonus

June 28: Seven Against Thebes

June 29: Antigone

We are following THE THEBAN CHRONICLES with a slightly more comic take on ambition, power, and dysfunctional marriages – a staged reading of Alfred Jarry’s masterpiece UBU ROI on Monday, July 19, adapted and directed by Bennett Fisher. Considered by many to be the godfather of Absurdism, Jarry scandalized Parisian audiences in 1896 with a madcap reboot of Macbeth. Over a century later, the play has lost none of its edge, and it’s schoolboy humor send-up of greed and gluttony still resonates.

We are excited that both projects will allow us to expand our creative pool to encompass more bay area theater artists. Check back with us soon about information regarding auditions and other ways to get involved. If you’re interested in being a part, we highly recommend that you come talk to us after a show.

-Victor Carrion, Stuart Bousel, Bennett Fisher, and Brian Markley