Homer's "Iliad" Moves From Page to Stage in World Premiere, War Music | Playbill

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News Homer's "Iliad" Moves From Page to Stage in World Premiere, War Music War Music, the music-infused staging of Homer's Trojan War epic, "Iliad," adapted and directed by Lillian Groag based on Christopher Logue's translation of the classic, opens April 1 in its world premiere by American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) in San Francisco.
War Music goddesses Sharon Lockwood and Erin Michelle Washington
War Music goddesses Sharon Lockwood and Erin Michelle Washington Photo by Kevin Berne

Previews began March 26. "In a wildly theatrical, totally modern interpretation of one of the mightiest conflicts of all time, Groag reignites the wrath of Greek warrior Achilles against his archrival, Agamemnon," according to A.C.T. notes.

Movement is by award-winning opera, theatre and ballet choreographer Daniel Pelzig. Original music is composed by John Glover, and an "eclectic selection of rock and pop music" is part of the mix.

"War Music cements A.C.T.'s position as the Bay Area home of unique fusion works in the vein of such groundbreaking pieces as The Overcoat and The Black Rider," states A.C.T.

Performances play to April 26 at the Geary Theatre.

* The cast features A.C.T. core acting company members René Augesen, Anthony Fusco, Gregory Wallace, Jud Williford and Jack Willis; veteran actors Charles Dean, Lee Ernst, Sharon Lockwood, David A. Moss and Andy Murray; alongside A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program class of 2009 members Nicholas Pelczar, Christopher S. Tocco, and Erin Michelle Washington.

The creative team includes set designer Daniel Ostling, costume designer Beaver Bauer, lighting designer Russell H. Champa and sound designer Jeff Mockus.

Groag said in production notes, "What inspired me the most about Christopher Logue's version of the 'Iliad' is that it is visceral, immediate, and truly funny, without ever minimizing the monumental thrust of the story. This is astonishing language that lifts off the page and dances and sings. It has been a wonderfully challenging and exciting process to develop such an ambitious piece with the support of the A.C.T. family, and I cannot imagine premiering this production in a better space than the beautiful A.C.T. stage to a more sophisticated audience."

Logue's translation of the "Iliad" was a project spanning 45 years and has been hailed internationally as an outstanding example of English adaptation of Greek poetry. Logue is a celebrated poet, playwright and screenwriter.

Groag has experience in opera and theatre; her work is "visceral and known for its unexpected use of music, movement and language," according to A.C.T.

Pelzig has worked in opera (Lucia di Lammermoor at The Metropolitan Opera with Mary Zimmerman), theatre (A Year with Frog and Toad on Broadway and Sweeney Todd for The Kennedy Center's Sondheim celebration), and ballet (Nine Lives: Songs of Lyle Lovett and Resurrection with cellist Yo-Yo Ma at the Boston Ballet).

Rising composer Glover, who is under commission to write pieces for the Baltimore Opera Company, Glimmerglass Opera, the Dueck Three piano trio, and People's Light and Theatre, "will set the tone of the production with his eclectic musical compositions, which will be heard in juxtaposition to an unexpected selection of rock and pop music."

Tickets — starting at $14 — are available by calling A.C.T. Ticket Services at (415) 749-2228 or at www.act-sf.org.


A.C.T. artistic director Carey Perloff speaks to the immediacy of this production: "As a country engaged in several wars of attrition simultaneously, we are desperate to understand how we got into the mess we are in. War Music is the perfect catalyst for conversation on these difficult questions and promises to be bold, ambitious, and unforgettable.

"A.C.T. has been deeply engaged with creating this remarkable new piece. It utilizes all that is unique about A.C.T.: our remarkable core acting company, our thrilling young M.F.A. Program actors, our love of original music and masterful choreography, and our desire to find metaphors for the world around us."

Andy Murray and the company of <i>War Music</i>
Andy Murray and the company of War Music Photo by Kevin Berne

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