presented by CBT as part of UT’s Africa Semester Celebration
KNOXVILLE — The Clarence Brown Theatre will kick off 2003 with “The Bacchae of Euripides: A Communion Rite” Feb. 6 – 22, in conjunction with UT’s Africa Semester Celebration. Nigerian-born, Nobel Prize winner Wole Soyinka has adapted the Greek classic to give a fresh outlook to the ancient myth of Pentheus and Dionysus. Soyinka focuses more on the celebration than the myth, and, in doing so, creates a ritual of renewal that combines Western and African imagery.
“The Bacchae is his best known adaptation of Greek theatre and it is so entertaining with music, dance and of course all the spectacle of Greek theatre, that it was such a likely choice,” director Beth Craven said.
In the play, Pentheus, a young king who has inherited his father’s kingdom, believes justice and the law will prevail throughout the land, and society will be a better place. His way of thinking contrasts with that of the god, Dionysus, who believes in celebration and creativity with music and art. Pentheus discovers the disguised Dionysus, orders his capture, puts him in chains and tries to deny him his godhood. Dionysus warns the egotistical Pentheus of revenge but the warnings are ignored. Fulfilling his promise, Dionysus plays a trick on Pentheus’s mother, Agave, causing her to mistake her son for a mountain lion and to kill him during a hunt. In the end, Agave realizes she has killed her son, and a renewal of the land occurs through Dionysus.
The production features professional actors, UT students and experienced African dancers and musicians from the community. The semester-long celebration will explore African culture, history, art and entertainment. Participating groups at UT include CBT, McClung Museum, and the departments of art and music.
“It’s a way to call a lot of public attention to the African culture, not only for this semester, but for the future,” Craven said. “The theatre department’s participation is essential, we’re one of the few departments that has the ability to reach a wide range of people, not only across the university campus but also in the community.”
“The Bacchae of Euripides” previews Thursday, Feb. 6 followed by opening night Friday, Feb. 7. The show will run through Saturday, Feb. 22. Ticket prices are $17 to $23 and $33 on opening night. Call the Clarence Brown Theatre box office at 974-5161 or Tickets Unlimited at 656-4444 to order tickets.