Aquila Will Present Catch-22 and Iliad Off-Broadway in 2008-09

News   Aquila Will Present Catch-22 and Iliad Off-Broadway in 2008-09
Aquila Theatre, the Off-Broadway troupe attracted to the classic titles, will resurface in New York City with a world premiere adaptation Catch-22, from the novel by Joseph Heller in fall 2008, plus a spring 2009 production of Homer's Iliad.

Adapted and directed by Aquila artistic director Peter Meineck, Catch-22 will begin Nov. 14, with opening night scheduled for Nov. 23. This limited engagement continues through Dec. 20.

Spring will see the first New York staging of Aquila's three-part take on Homer's Iliad, March 27-April 26, 2009.

Casting for both productions will be announced shortly.

Performances will be at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, 121 Christopher Street, between Bleecker & Hudson Streets.

Aquila was last seen in New York in 2007 when it presented Prometheus Bound. Since then the company has been touring internationally, performing in festivals throughout Europe, in Greece, Poland, Hungary, Germany and the United Kingdom. "Now Aquila is back in New York and will present regular seasons of two-to-three plays a year," the troupe announced Aug. 13.

According to Aquila, "Joseph Heller's 'Catch-22' is a modern American classic. The term itself has entered the language as a description of a ridiculously cyclical situation. The book by Joseph Heller was first published in 1961 and immediately caused a huge furor in the literary world. In 1971, Heller himself created a play based on his best-selling novel. Since then, Catch-22 the play has not received a professional production. Aquila feels this is a work by one of America's great creative geniuses, and it deserves to be seen."

In the tale, "Yossarian is a bombardier on a B-25, based on a small island off the coast of Italy in 1944. He starts to question the futile and ridiculous administration of his air base and seeks a way to preserve his life when the whole world around him seems to be going mad. Like a modern-day Achilles, Yossarian protests with powerful and often hilarious results. Catch-22 tackles huge things with rich metaphors, boldly drawn characters and near-impossible situations. It is a work of great theatricality with superb language and a sense of dark surrealism. Heller dares to examine the very philosophy of war and what it does to the humans that fight them."

Aquila explored the first part of Homer's Iliad in a production at Lincoln Center in 1999, returning to the project several times over the past nine years with performances at Classic Stage Company, NYU and Columbia University. "There can be no doubt that Homer's epic story of Achilles and the Trojan War is one of the greatest works in world literature," according to the troupe. "A disparate group of soldiers and refugees take refuge from a savage war and find solace and humanity in Homer's epic tale. Nine years after the start of the Trojan War, the Greeks are still unable to defeat their enemy. Agamemnon, the commander clashes with the best warrior, Achilles over the division of war-prizes and is forced to give back the girl Chryseis to her father after Apollo sends a terrible plague. Agamemnon claims Achilles' war-prize Briseis to save face and the furious Achilles withdraws from the fighting and asks the Gods to turn the war against the Greeks."

This marks the first time all three parts of Aquila's version of Homer's Iliad will be presented in New York City.

Meineck has directed and/or produced over 40 productions in New York City, London, Holland, Germany, Greece, Scotland, Canada, Bermuda, and the U.S. in venues as diverse as Carnegie Hall, the ancient Stadium at Delphi, Lincoln Center, and the White House. He has published several volumes of translations of Greek plays including Aeschylus' Oresteia, which won the Lewis Galantiere Award for Literary Translation from the American Translators Association, Sophocles' Theban Plays (with Paul Woodruff) and Philoctetes and Ajax and Aristophanes' Clouds, Wasps & Birds. He has also written several literary adaptations for the stage including The Man Who Would Be King, Canterbury Tales, The Invisible Man, in addition to Catch-22.

The Aquila Theatre Company was founded in London in 1991 by Peter Meineck and has been based in New York City since 1999. Aquila's mission is to bring the greatest theatrical works to the greatest number. Aquila presents a regular season of plays in New York, at international festivals, and tours to approximately 70 American towns and cities a year. The Aquila performance approach is a technique developed by Peter Meineck "that combines text and physical action based in a theory of theatrical unity." The technique is aimed "to create an aesthetic environment where the performer can create and recreate a role in a consistently changing theatrical atmosphere."

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