Galati Explores Oedipus Via Freud, and Vice Versa, in World Premiere Oedipus Complex July 31 in Oregon

News   Galati Explores Oedipus Via Freud, and Vice Versa, in World Premiere Oedipus Complex July 31 in Oregon
Tony Award-winning playwright and director Frank Galati, who brought The Grapes of Wrath to life on stage, pulls back the curtain of a turn-of-the-20th-century medical theatre in the July 31 world premiere of Oedipus Complex at Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
Jonathan Haugen and cast in Oedipus Complex
Jonathan Haugen and cast in Oedipus Complex Photo by Jenny Graham

In the new piece, written and directed by Galati, "Sigmund Freud meets Sophocles' Oedipus and delves into the mysteries of human thought and behavior." The work explores "the profound impact... Freud's encounter with Oedipus Rex" had on modern culture.

Oedipus Complex runs to Oct. 30 at Oregon Shakespeare Festival's Angus Bowmer Theatre in Ashland, OR.

OSF artistic director Libby Appel initially asked Galati to direct Oedipus Rex. According to production notes, "In contemplating the offer, he re-read Freud's 1899 essay in 'The Interpretation of Dreams' in which Freud talks about the Oedipus Complex for the first time."

He explained in a recent interview with OSF guest dramaturg Douglas Langworthy that he "had the idea that a way into Oedipus Rex was through Freud, and that Freud could help authenticate the story of Oedipus by helping us see that it informed the intellectual life and the storytelling of the entire 20th century. That actually, if Freud is a way of understanding Oedipus, Oedipus could also be a way of understanding Freud."

Galati's dramatizations and adaptations include The Grapes of Wrath (Broadway, Royal National Theater, Steppenwolf Theater, La Jolla Playhouse), for which he won two 1990 Tony Awards for Best Play and Best Director, Anne Tyler's Earthly Possessions, William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, a Bulgakov novel Heart of the Dog, a musical adaptation of John Kennedy O'Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces, and Mike Royko's Boss. His screenplay of Anne Tyler's "The Accidental Tourist" earned him a nomination (with Lawrence Kasdan) for an Academy Award. Directing credits include the Broadway production of Ragtime and the recent Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Mark Taper Forum production of Tony Kushner's Hombody/Kabul at BAM. The environment of Oedipus Complex is influenced by Thomas Eakins' paintings "The Gross Clinic" and "The Agnew Clinic." Set designer James Schuette "has created a stylized, slightly surreal medical theatre where Freud delivers his ideas about the Oedipus Complex to an audience of medical students, colleagues and doctors."

Galati said in production notes, "The play of the story of Oedipus Rex explodes out of the vomitorium of the surgical theatre. In a sense, Freud, as a mentor in this journey into the interior, is using Oedipus as a patient just as a great surgeon might use a cadaver or a patient to illustrate his theory."

Designers are Mara Blumenfeld (costumes) and Michael Chybowski (lighting), with music composed by OSF resident composer and music director Todd Barton.

The cast of Oedipus Complex includes William Langan as Sigmund Freud and Teiresias, Jonathan Haugen as Oedipus, Gregory Linington as Wilhelm Fliess and Chorus Leader, Judith-Marie Bergan as Amalia Freud and Jocasta, Armando Durán as Creon and Ensemble, Kenneth Albers as Corinthian and Ensemble and Michael J. Hume as Shepherd and Ensemble.

Oedipus Complex joins eight other OSF productions in repertory.

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