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January 25, 2007

Drama school presents Euripides classic

The UW School of Drama will present the last of Euripides’ classic tragedies, The Bacchae, Jan. 28 through Feb. 11 in the Meany Studio Theatre. Directed by UW Artist in Residence Andrew Tsao, this production will feature the graduating class of the Professional Actor Training Program.

Regarded by many as Euripides’ masterpiece and one of the foremost of all Greek tragedies, The Bacchae was written in 404 B.C. when the famous playwright was over 70 years old and in self-imposed exile from Athens. In the play, Dionysus, the god of chaos and son of Zeus, seeks vengeance on the ancient Greek city of Thebes, the city of his birth and site of his mortal mother Semele’s cruel death.

The Bacchae is a deeply moving story about the terrible cost of arrogance,” explains Tsao, who notes that the stage production is translated by American poet and Pulitzer Prize winner C.K. Williams.

The play opens with Dionysus coming from Asia to establish his worship in Thebes, accompanied by the Bacchae, a group of devout female followers. His divine birth is abruptly denied by King Pentheus, who refuses to worship him. In revenge, Dionysus casts a spell on all the women in town – including Pentheus’ mother Agave – and they take to the hills in a state of near demonic possession. Dionysus then convinces the king to dress like a woman and travel into the mountains to take a voyeuristic look at the frenzied females. Upon seeing her son, Pentheus’ mother mistakes him for a lion and rips him limb from limb in a fit of blood lust.

“Euripides leaves us a powerful legacy in The Bacchae – the transformative nature of theatre, the ethics of power, the responsibilities of citizenship during the declining years of empire,” Tsao says.

Andrew Tsao received his B.A. from the UW and an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts, and has since worked in regional theatres and off-Broadway.

Tickets and information are available by calling 206-543-4880 and online at http://depts.washington.edu/uwdrama. Tickets for previews are $8; prices for all other performances are $15 for adults; seniors, $12; UW employees, $13. Students from any school with current ID pay $10.