CalArts Center for New Performance's (CNP) production of Aeschylus' Prometheus Bound opens at the Getty Villa in Malibu, Calif. on Thursday (Sept. 5), with previews throughout the weekend (Aug. 29 through 31).
Directed by CNP's Creative Director and Dean of the School of Theater, Travis Preston, the Greek tragedy is a poetic exploration of revolt and punishment. The play's hero, Prometheus, steals fire from the gods and presents it to humanity, bringing upon himself the wrath of Zeus. As sanction for his rebellion, Prometheus is chained to a mountain for eternity. Standing in for the mountain is a 5.5-ton steel wheel designed by Preston and Efren Delgadillo, Jr. (Theater MFA 03). Ron Cephas Jones, the actor who plays Prometheus, is strapped to the mechanical behemoth for all but a few early moments of the play.
Prometheus Bound's notoriously tricky but beautiful original Greek is given new life with a new translation by poet and essayist Joel Agee. "The challenge for me was one of engaging with this great tragic poem on its own terms and finding resources in my own language to mirror its moral power and formal beauty," he says. Along with the new translation is new original music composed by Ellen Reid (Music MFA 11) and CalArts faculty member and jazz instrumentalist Vinny Golia, who accompanies the production with live music.
All the updates seem to be deliberate for Preston, who brings the ancient play—believed to have first been performed in the 450s BCE—into modernity. "It inspires a complex relationship in the contemporary mind: We recognize both the necessity of the revolt and the terrible price paid for the revolt," he says, "A radical tied to a rock by a tyrant—and they [the gods] approved it!"
In addition to the CalArtians mentioned above, Prometheus Bound includes a number of CalArts faculty, alumni and students in both its workshop stage and Getty performance. Among them are associate producer John Henningsen (Theater MFA 15), technical director Bill Honigstein (Theater MFA 14), as well as School of Theater faculty member and costume designer Ellen McCartney. The female lead, Io, is played by School of Theater director of performance Miriana Jokovic.
Above, we posted a slideshow of images from Prometheus Bound.
Sept. 5 through 28, 8 pm
The Getty Villa
17985 E Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades
Tickets: general audience $42, students/seniors $38