Winner of the 1995 Nobel Prize for Poetry, Seamus Heaney will bring his version of Sophocles' classic, Philoctetes, to Milwaukee Chamber Theatre. Titled The Cure At Troy, the show is directed by James Tasse (pronounced ta'-see) and staged at the Studio Theatre, through Feb. 2.
Philoctetes, cursed with a wound that gives off an offensive stench, has been exiled to an island. Now, however, Odysseus, the very Greek who exiled him need his magic archery bow. They must convince an understandably bitter Philoctetes to return with them and lead them to victorious battle.
Stage manager Jim Pieper (pronounced "piper") told Playbill On-Line th -tor Tasse has referred to the play as "something 3,000 years old and preserved in amber, now seen through the eyes of a 20th Century poet." Pieper said that much of the early rehearsal process involved a "crash course in mythology," done with the help of three Mount Mary College professors who are experts in Irish poetry and classical Greek drama.
Heaney has called Troy a "version" of Philoctetes, rather than an adaptation or translation, since, according to Pieper, he's added chorus monologues that refer to war (and even, obliquely, to the troubles in Northern Ireland).
Heaney is scheduled to attend the Jan. 11 premiere, which will be his first-ever chance to see the play done. Earlier that day, he will give a poetry reading at Centennial Hall in the Milwaukee Public Library. Appearing in Cure are Jim Butchart (Odysseus), Jents Rasmussen (Neoptolemus) and David Skidmore (Philoctetes), plus a three-member chorus. The set and lighting are by John Paul Devlin.
Seamus Heaney was born in 1939 in Country Derry, Northern Ireland. In 1984, he was elected the Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory at Harvard, and served for two years as Professor of Poetry at Oxford University. His works include 11 books of poetry, 2 books of criticism, and one play: The Cure at Troy .
For tickets and information on Cure, call (414) 276-8842, or refer to the David Lefkowitz