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The Persians

Production Ensemble 2005

The Department of Theatre presents the East-Coast premiere of:
In a modern version by Obie-award winning playwright Robert Auletta

Aeschylus' The Persians is the oldest surviving play in the western canon. It came in the wake of the Greeks' victory over Xerxes' Imperial Army in the second phase of the Greco-Persian wars (480-479 BCE), a feat that would have been considered at the time to be the greatest military triumph in history. Naturally, the Greeks thought of themselves as defenders of freedom, democracy, and virtue; the Persians symbolized slavery, despotism, and savagery.

The Persians was performed in the amphitheater of Athens, the pinnacle of Hellenistic civilization, the literal and metaphorical acropolis of the known world. It depicted before the eyes of the Athenians the winning of their glorious war but this time from the Persian point of view. The Persians' mourning, Aeschylus shows us, was no different from the Greeks'.

The spirit of a war-time play from the perspective of the enemy resonated with director Peter Sellars and playwright Robert Auletta during the Persian Gulf War, in 1991. In the words of Sellars, Auletta's adaptation, which draws an analogy between Aeschylus' Persians and the Iraqis of just over a decade ago, comprises a complex moral discussion that moves simultaneously forwards and backwards through time. Through a restaging of the play, with the introduction of media, music, and modernized military information, we have attempted to apply Aeschylus' and Auletta's themes to our current situation. The overwhelming message is that of empathy.

Performances are: Friday April 15 at 8pm, Saturday April 16 at 2pm, Saturday April 16 at 8pm followed by a post-show discussion with playwright Robert Auletta, and Sunday April 17 at 4pm in the Pearson-Hall Theatre, Lang Performing Arts Center. Admission is free, but seating is limited, so please arrive early.

Director: Erin B. Mee
Set Designer: Paul Peyton Moffitt
Costume Designer: Christina Marese
Lighting Design: James Murphy
Music Composed and Performed by: Ralph Denzer
Dramaturg: Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Director and Choreographer: Janice Im
Assistant Designers: Charles Coes, Anna Belc, Dana Variano
Stage Manager: Stephanie Duncan

Chorus: Kate van Winkle
Atossa: Phoebe Vacharat
Messenger: Nick Malakhow
Darius: Matt Lowe
Xerxes: Matt Lowe

Robert Auletta's plays have been produced at The Yale Repertory Theatre, The American Repertory Theatre, the New York Public Theatre, Café LaMaMa, and elsewhere. His plays include Walk the Dog, Willie, Rundown, Diesel Moon, Hage - The Sexual History, The Tobogganists, and Guess Work. His two one-act plays, Stops and Virgins, won a Village Voice Obie award for distinguied playwriting in 1983. Ajax, his modern version of Sophocles' tragedy, directed by Peter Sellars, was produced at the Kennedy Center and The La Jolla Playhouse, and then toured extensively in Europe. His adaptation of Buchner's Danton's Death was directed by Robert Wilson at the Alley Theatre in Houston in 1992. Auletta is a recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts playwriting grants, and a New York State Foundation grant. He teaches at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.

Location: Pearson-Hall Theatre
Dates: April 15, 2005 - April 17, 2005
Times: Friday at 8 pm, Saturday at 2 pm and 8 pm (followed by talk-back with Robert Auletta), Sunday at 4 pm