The Denver Center Theatre Company announced May 24 that it will produce the world premiere of Tantalus, John Barton's ambitious 10-play, 15-hour cycle about The Trojan War, directed by Sir Peter Hall.
In association with the Royal Shakespeare Company, which commissioned the years-in-the-making work, the Tony Award-winning Denver Center Theatre Company will present an international cast of 20 featuring Denver, American, British and European performers. There will be a six month rehearsal period, unheard of in American regional theatre.
The $6 million production -- $3 million in cash and $3 million in-kind from the Denver Center staff and facility use -- will play Denver Center's Stage Theatre September 15-December 17, 2000, and then travel to London, Greece and likely return to the U.S. and go on to other international cities.
Tantalus is a Greek figure who was tempted by the food of the Gods and punished for offering ambrosia to mortals. His name is the root of the word "tantalize." The heroes, gods, mortals, men and women of the Trojan War, some of them descended from Tantalus, are expected to be a part of the epic. The script draws from stories and legends of the Trojan War, but not from specific extant plays.
The money was secured by Donald R. Seawell, chairman and founder of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, where the nonprofit DCTC operates in several spaces within the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex. In 2000-2001, Denver Center Theatre Company will present nine plays (plus Tantalus) rather than the customary 12. Barton, a director and writer, is a major figure in classical theatre in the 20th century. With Hall, he helped found the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1960 and became associate director in 1964. He is a Shakespeare expert and previously adapted the works of Euripides in another major cycle known as The Greeks (1980).
"The city of Troy -- trapped in the horrors of war -- is a metaphor for the ambiguity, horrors and ironies of all wars down the ages," Barton wrote. "But much of it is comedic and human and I do not see it as a solemn event."
The Denver Center Theatre Company received the 1998 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre.
-- By Kenneth Jones