Philip Glass and JoAnne Akalaitis to Collaborate on Staging of The Bacchae

Classic Arts News   Philip Glass and JoAnne Akalaitis to Collaborate on Staging of The Bacchae
Composer Philip Glass and director JoAnne Akalaitis are to join forces for a new stage version of the ancient Greek drama The Bacchae, which will be seen for the first time (in unfinished form) at Stanford University in California next season.

The music-theater work will be one of the first fruits of a collaboration between Stanford Lively Arts and the Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival. The joint project, announced by both institutions today, seeks to act as an incubator for new stage works from both established and emerging artists, offering some protection from the pressure to sell tickets endemic to both commercial and large non-profit theaters.

Glass and Akalaitis will spend two weeks in residence at the university in October and November of this year, according to a spokesperson for Stanford Lively Arts; they will conduct workshops and short courses for students, faculty and community, with readings of the work-in-progress at the residency's end.

The Public Theater Residency at Stanford, as the new joint program is called, will launch next month with playwright David Henry Hwang, who will develop his new play Yellow Face, set to have its world premiere at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles this May.

The Bacchae will be the latest of many collaborations between Glass and Akalaitis, who were married from 1965 to 1980 and who were both founding members of the well-known experimental theater troupe Mabou Mines. Among their recent joint efforts was a 2001 chamber opera version of Franz Kafka's story In the Penal Colony.

A spokesperson for the Public Theater could offer no estimated date for a premiere of the finished work.

Akalaitis, a widely admired theater director, headed the Public Theater for 20 months following the 1991 death of founding director Joseph Papp.

One of 17 tragedies by Euripedes to have survived complete, The Bacchae tells the story of the revenge taken by Dionysos on the city of Thebes, site of the death of his mother Semele. The god whips the women of the city into a wine-fueled erotic frenzy; when King Pentheus declares war against the crazed band of women, his forces are defeated and he himself is torn to pieces by his own mother, who in her madness does not recognize him until it is too late.

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