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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

FAMILY (article first published : 2008-05-12)

The Drama and Performance Studies programme (UKZN) presents a landmark theatrical event – Family, an adaptation of the classic tragedy of ancient Greek theatre, Aeshcylus’ Oresteian trilogy which will be performed as a site specific performance piece in and around the UKZN Drama Dept from May 20 to 25 nightly at 17h30.

Titled Family, the production consists of four plays that chronicle the epic story of the house of Atreus and the events following the Trojan War.

Family is co-directed by Lliane Loots, Mervyn McMurtry and Tamar Meskin, and is a site-specific performance piece. During your journey through the history of the house of Atreus, you will start on the roof of the Drama Building and witness the story of Iphigenia, directed by Lliane Loots, told through dance-theatre in the style of the renowned Flatfoot Dance Company. Then you will move to the Pieter Scholtz Open Air Theatre for the performance of Agamemnon, directed by Mervyn McMurtry. Then it’s on to the Square Space Theatre for the Electra, directed by Tamar Meskin. And finally, we come back full circle to the roof to witness the conclusion to the tale in The Eumenides, a collaboration between all three directors.

“In the 5th century BC, Greek tragedies were performed as part of festivals and each day would consist of four theatrical performances,” say the directors. “We have taken this idea and used it in preparing our salute to the theatre’s great past. This, however, is Greek theatre as you have never seen it before: featuring a cast of more than 70 performers, and encompassing a wide range of styles, it is an exciting, post-modern, multicultural performance work that will – in the tradition of the department’s critically acclaimed Shakespeare productions – take Greek theatre to a new place and time.

“Beginning with the tale of Iphigenia – the daughter of Agamemnon sacrificed to enable the Greek fleet to sail to Troy – the story chronicles the return of the victorious Agamemnon to Argos, only to be met by his bitter and vengeful wife Clytemnestra and her new lover, Aegisthus, who plot – and carry out – Agamemnon’s murder. The story continues seven years later, and tells the tale of Electra and Orestes (the children of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra), their revenge on their mother, and the ensuing rage of the Furies who pursue Orestes to punish him. The production concludes with The Eumenides, in which the goddess Athena presides over a trial-like contest between Orestes and the Furies to decide which is right and whether or not Orestes may be released from his blood-guilt.

Richer in complexity than any modern soap-opera, the Greek tragedies tell stories for all times, and this one includes all the elements of dramatic excitement that you could hope for – love, lust, violence, betrayal, revenge, redemptions, all the ingredients of a great story.

Family runs from May 20 to 25 nightly at 17h30 – with a break for picnic dinners between the third and fourth plays. Seating is strictly limited to 120 people so booking is essential. Tickets R30 (R15 scholars, students and pensioners). Block booking rates are R15 for ten or more people. Booking can be made through Claudette Wagner on 031 260-3133 or email wagnerc1@ukzn.ac.za




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