American Thymele Theatre
Stephen Diacrussi, ATT Founder, Producing/Artistic Director
as part of ATT’s 2010 NEW YORK EURIPIDES SUMMER FESTIVAL SERIES
Translated and Edited by Richmond Lattimore
Directed by Lorca Peress
July 6 - 10, 2010, NYC
East River Park Amphitheatre 7/6 and 7/7
Naumburg Bandshell 7/8
Marilyn Monroe Theatre 7/9 and 7/10
Stage Manager GEOFFREY NIXON
Original Music by KOSTAS KOURIS
Scenery, Mask and Property Designer ALAN M. BOLLE
Costume Designer MARIA NIORA
Sound Design JOSH ALLEN
Press Representative SCOTTI RHODES PUBLICITY
Apollo – Paul Mischeshin
Death – Frederick Mayer
Coryphaeus – Goran Ivanovski
First Elder – John Rice
Second Elder – Michael Honda
Third Elder – Perri Yaniv
Fourth Elder – Julian M. Sapala
Fifth Elder – Steven Ungar
Handmaid to Alcestis – Jessica Levesque
Admetus – Christopher Ryan
Alcestis – Denise Fiore
Eumelus – Luke Vedder
Sister of Eumelus – Emilly Medina
Hercules – Harry Oram
Pheres – Zenon Zeleniuch
Servant to Admetus – Anthony Michael Stokes
This season, American Thymele Theatre is presenting ALCESTIS as part of their New York Euripides Summer Theatre Festival in two outdoor venues in addition to two performances at the Marilyn Monroe Theatre. The play has been staged with classic sensibilities, including the Chorus of Elders of Pherae in Thessaly, and a full cast outfitted with traditional costumes and masks.
The story of ALCESTIS ostensibly focuses on the title-character’s choice to give her life so that her husband, King Admetus, shall live, but most of the action revolves around Admetus. After offending Artemis, Admetus has been condemned to death. Apollo intercedes on Ademtus’ behalf, persuading Death to take another in the King’s place. Enter Alcestis.
The character Alcestis has little to do here except come onstage on the verge of death, give farewells to her young children, and exact a pledge from her husband not to remarry, before she dies. Like most of the players in ALCESTIS, the title role is emoted more than it is acted. In most plays this would not work, but in the realm of Greek tragedy, where the lives of mortals are often directed at the whims of the gods, and the intent of the tales is often much larger than the players, it is not entirely unexpected that the characters tend more to the one-dimensional than the rounded. They are meant to be archetypal.
Of the group presented in ALCESTIS, Admetus is the least appealing. Having allowed his wife to die in his place, he rails against both of his own parents for not offering to die for him. His father, Pheres, confronts Ademtus at Alcestis’ funeral, rather dressing him down, and making accusations against his son’s character. The unexpected hero of the bunch turns out to be a seemingly untimely and over-imbibing houseguest, Hercules. Eventually restoring the household, Hercules’ presence evokes a humorous monologue by the Servant (Anthony Michael Stokes). This provides the most lighthearted moment in this tragedy that is clearly on the cusp of the tragicomic.
The production I attended, at the indoor Marilyn Monroe Theatre, was the smallest of the spaces that the play was staged on for this Festival. Given the sparse sets, and with few sound or lighting changes employed to effect the mood, the focus of the direction was almost fully on the actors and the words, making great use of the Chorus of Elders and their staffs. Tied up with a relatively happy ending, ALCESTIS is an interesting tale certainly open to modern interpretation from various philosophical perspectives.
- Kessa De Santis -