The Summer Theatre Company's Bacchae

Press Release contributed in place of review by
Rosemary Donnelly,
Program Director,
The Athens Centre,

An English-language adaptation of Euripides' play Bacchae will be presented in Greece this summer by the Classic Theatre Company of Detroit, Michigan, in cooperation with the Athens Centre. The Company will be in intensive rehearsal for the production during the next three weeks while in residence at their summer home at the Anargyrios School in Spetses.

The Classic Theatre Company is an annual summer program of the University of Detroit Mercy, and takes its participants from professional actors and designers, teachers, and students of dance, voice, theatre, and the classics from colleges and universities throught the U.S. Participants receive intensive training in all aspects of theatre, in addition to touring the play to several ancient and modern amphitheatres.

Dr. Arthur Beer, Director of the Theatre Company, was inspired to start the program in the 1970s. He chose the Athens Centre at that time with an idea for presenting English language versions of classical plays, as a complement to the superb productions done in Greek at various summer festivals here. He has been coming to Greece with the Company almost every summer since then. Previous productions have included Lysistrata, Birds, Trojan Women, Agamemnon, and Congress of Women.

The inspiration for this year's version of Bacchae, including the music and production concept, came from Dr. Beer's trip to northern Greece many years ago. There he had the opportunity to witness the Anastenaria, the firewalkers of northern Greece. Struck by the fact that 'in a time of rationalist disbelief, miracles of faith occur regularly among the deeply devout,' he sought a dramatic vehicle to convey his own 'rationalist amazement'. Although there are many critical commentaries on the meanings of the Bacchae (most of them contradictory), Dr. Beer came to believe that Euripides, in his last years of self-imposed exile in Macedonia, probably came across the pagan equivalent of today's firewalkers and felt compelled to write the Bacchae in response.

This adaptation of Bacchae was first presented at the Athens Centre in 1976. It was later seen at the Volterra Theatre Festival in Italy, when the Company was invited there in 1991. Performances this year will take place at the Anargyrios School Amphitheatre in Spetses on July 2, in Athens on July 7, and at the Ancient Theatre of Argos on July 9. All performances begin at 9:00 PM and are open to the public.

(No other theatre program is doing ancient plays (in English
translation) in ancient theatres.)

Rosemary Donnelly
The Athens Centre