The European Repertory Company of Chicago prides itself on the fact that unlike most American theatres, it sets no time limits on its productions, allowing shows to run their natural courses. This policy has certainly served the company in the case of E.R.C.'s acclaimed production of Agamemnon, now running into its third year, having run more than 100 performances.
On Jan. 3, Stephen Berkoff's 1973 adaptation of Agamemnon re-opened its primetime run at E.R.C.on Friday and Saturday nights. The show originally opened in September of '95, and remained open for off-hour performances in '96, running in rep with their productions of Uncle Vanya, and most recently, Have Your Anything to Declare?.
Jefferson Award-cited in 1995 for Best Scenic Design, and nominated for Best Director and Best Production, the show has received recommendations from virtually every Chicago paper. The recommendation in the New City paper said, "It's reassuring theatre groups like the European Repertory Company are willing to take risks and produce work like Steven Berkoff's . . . modern retelling of the classic Greek tragedy. Highly stylized, physically challenging, full of Berkoff's explosive poetic wordplay, Agamemnon condenses into ninety taut minutes the great general's story--his family's curse, the sacrifice of his daughter, his defeat of the Trojans, his unhappy return to his murderously angry wife."
E.R.C. showcases both European and American-trained actors, committed to the presentation of classic and contemporary European works. Legend has it that E.R.C. artistic and Agamemnon director Dale Goulding arrived in Chicago from London with only $40 in his pocket. Managing Director Yasen Peyankov is a political dissident from Bulgaria. Both are thoroughly trained in theatre arts.
The company has achieved critical success in their four and one-half year existence. Goulding said, "We arrived with a clear goal and commitment to a theatre style based in a technique that creates 'theatre' in the magical sense of the word." The company's credo is based on the principles of Polish-born theorist Jerzy Grotowski. E.R.C. is committed to the belief that theatre "exists to learn to break down barriers which surround us, and to free ourselves from the brakes that hold us back, from the lies about ourselves which we manufacture daily for ourselves and for others, to destroy the limitations caused by our ignorance and lack of courage, in short, to fill the emptiness in us: to fulfill ourselves. Art is ripening, an evolution, an uplifting which enables us to emerge from darkness into a blaze of light."
For tickets or more information, please refer to the European Repertory Theatre regional listing on Playbill On-Line.
--By Blair Glaser