NY's La MaMa will revive one of the premiere events in the history of American avant-garde theatre with the Andrei Serban-Elizabeth Swados collaboration, Fragments of a Greek Trilogy, beginning performances March 26, for an official run playing April 1-April 11.
The production, comprising Medea, Electra, and The Trojan Women, will be performed in rotating repertory by the Serban-Swados helmed Great Jones Repertory Company. The original production, dating back to 1974, received near-universal critical acclaim as did the 1996 revival of The Trojan Women section at La MaMa.
The project, performed in a collage of ancient languages (Greek, Latin, Indian), recaptures the ritualistic nature of the theatre as first performed by the Ancient Greeks.
Members of Great Jones Rep appearing in the trilogy include many veterans of the 1974 production, as well as newer troupe members and children descended from original members. Because of the unique vocal styling required to bring the ancient texts to song, younger cast members are apprenticing with older ones. Original cast members in this production include: Neal Harris, Paul Harris, Charlie Hayward, Genji Ito, Onni Johnson, Jun Maeda, Valois, Bill Ruyhle, Yukio Tsuji, and Dolfi Wertenbaker. Newer cast members include: Arthur Adair, Charlotte Brathwaite, Maura Nguyen Donohue, George Drance, Olivia Harrington, Kim Ima, Karen Kandel, Julia Martin, Brian Nishii, Shawan Randall, Christopher Roberts, Anca Suiu, Zishan Ugurlu, Carlo Wertenbaker, Mia Yoo and Perry Yung.
Music for the production is composed by Elizabeth Swados, who won her first Obie Award at age 21 for her score for Medea. A composer, librettist and director, her productions include: Jerusalem, Missionaries, Runaways, Nightclub Cantata, The Red Sneaks, Esther, The Haggadah, and Alice in Concert. Serban's eclectic career has been going through a bit of a revival this past season. In New York, he's recently staged Cymbeline at the NYSF, Taming of the Shrew, and The Caucasian Chalk Circle. After receiving international renown for Fragments and other New York works, Serban returned to his native Romania in 1990 to head their National Theatre. He is currently head of the theatre program at Columbia University.
The schedule is as follows:
March 26 - Medea and Trojan Women
March 27 - Medea and Trojan Women
March 28 - Medea and Trojan Women
April 1 - Electra and Trojan Women
April 2 - Medea and Trojan Women
April 3 - Electra and Trojan Women
April 4 - Medea, Electra and Trojan Women
April 7 - Medea and Trojan Women
April 8 - Electra and Trojan Women
April 9 - Medea and Trojan Women
April 10 - Electra and Trojan Women
April 11 - Medea, Electra and Trojan Women
For tickets to Fragments of a Greek Trilogy, call (212) 475 7710.
-- By Sean McGrath