So this week, I embarked on an epic theater experience. I saw Part 1 of the Hypocrites’ All Our Tragic. The group has taken the thirty-two Greek tragedies and combined them into one Odyssey-sized play. You can see it in one twelve-hour chunk or if you are like me and can’t sit still for that long, you can see it in pieces. So on Monday, I saw the first three hours and will be seeing subsequent sections in three-hour chunks.
Installment one was fantastic. The main plays (or the ones I discerned) were Heracles, Medea, and the Seven Sisters. I will admit that I don’t know these plays well; I’ve only read two of thirty-two but I think it was well done. The plays are nicely interwoven; characters from each interacted fluidly. I thought the acting was great. I really felt for some characters, reviled others (Jason!), and pitied and disliked others at the same time (Medea). Everything that these plays should do. They are messy plays to be sure; there was a lot of fake blood, fake limbs, but it was expected. These are tragedies after all.
I realized that with the exception of a shortened school production, I don’t think I’ve seen any Greek tragedies staged. Despite being the foundation of Western theater, these plays really aren’t produced very often. Or so it seems. I can understand why the lesser known plays wouldn’t be staged often but I don’t recall having a chance to see Oedipus or Antigone. And there is even a more modern version of Antigone by Jean Anouilh! So it was special to see these plays performed. I hope that the Hypocrites will consider doing the comedies. I’d love to see Aristophanes’ plays staged. But then again, I have a soft spot in my heart for Lysistrata, since I was in a high school production of it.
But what I love about these plays is how human they are. Sure there are heroes with G-dlike powers, fantastical monsters, magic, etc, but the action is so human. People’s downfalls are from their own decisions. Sure, there are external forces but often it’s from pride, jealousy, ambition. That’s probably why they’ve survived; we can see these characters everywhere. It’s a nice reminder that we need to chill out and reflect on our choices maybe before it’s too late.
I think the Hypocrites did nice job of staging it. They do play around with staging of plays. We’ve seen them do various Gilbert and Sullivan shows where the stage was the entire theater. There were limited seats. And if a character needed to be where you were sitting, they would point at the seat for you to move for the scene. Very interesting. Here, there isn’t the same chaotic set up but they have a great stage. There is the main stage itself and then an opposing wall with several doors. It’s an unusual set up but it works. Entrances and exits are critical in this play. There’s a lot of dead bodies that have to be carted off stage. The play also interweaves wonderful American folk music skillfully throughout the show.
And there are snacks too.
So tomorrow, I will see Part 2 and I’m very excited. They do recommend seeing it in order but I’ve been told you can see parts of it without other parts. I know for a fact that I’ll be missing part 3. Or if you are feeling up to it, consider the twelve-hour show. I’ve heard it’s well worth it.
That’s all for now!