This September, the Getty Museum and CalArts’ Center for New Performance (CNP), in association with Trans Arts, will present Prometheus Bound, the eighth annual outdoor theater production in the Getty Villa’s Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater. Featuring a newly-translated text by noted poet and essayist Joel Agee, Prometheus Bound will be directed by Travis Preston, artistic director of CNP and dean of the CalArts School of Theater, and include original music by composer Ellen Reid and celebrated jazz multi-instrumentalist Vinny Golia (who will also perform live onstage).
In the mythic tradition, the Titan Prometheus, progenitor and champion of humankind, stole fire from Mount Olympus to give to mortals. In this play, he also taught them crafts and skills essential for human civilization. As punishment, Zeus dooms him to an eternity chained to a mountaintop, where Prometheus spends his days and nights railing against the gods and their injustices.
The striking central element of this original production of the ancient Greek drama will be a mammoth steel wheel, twenty-three feet tall that will be installed in the outdoor theater. As envisioned by director Preston and scenic designer Efren Delgadillo, Jr., the remote mountaintop is represented by this enormous steel wheel, to which Prometheus is strapped in the opening scene of the play.
Notes Preston: “Prometheus Bound addresses man’s relationship to the eternal order of the cosmos. The circle represents the cosmos and is also an image of time. The drama is placed at the edge of civilization, as well as at the border between ritual and artistic expression. Prometheus Bound also depicts the enfranchisement of human capability. It is a hosanna to human culture and achievement.”
Of the surviving ancient Greek dramas, Prometheus Bound (of unknown date, but perhaps first performed in the 450s B.C.) is considered to be one of the most beautifully written, theatrically unique, and theologically profound: a masterpiece of Western theater. It has equally proven to be one of the most challenging to translate and present to contemporary audiences. While continuing to be ascribed to the tragic poet Aeschylus, the play’s authorship has been the subject of scholarly debate in recent decades. Composed in the most ancient extant dramatic form, Prometheus Bound unfolds almost as an epic poem or extended hymn, rarely yielding the dramatic action generally associated with later Greek tragedies.
The Getty Villa’s annual outdoor theater production is part of the Getty Museum’s innovative theater program that enhances the visitor’s experience of the ancient world. Live performances of classical drama offer insights into the social, cultural, and political realities of life in ancient Greece and Rome while, in the galleries, works of art serve to deepen the connection between modern audiences and the mythical stories underlying the tragedies and comedies on stage.
“We are delighted to be collaborating with the widely respected and highly innovative team of theater artists at CalArts for this new presentation of Prometheus Bound,” says Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “In the ancient world, theater was a fundamental part of religious and social life, and as our theater program at the Getty Villa demonstrates, Classical drama still connects strongly with contemporary playwrights, actors, and audiences.”
Performances of Prometheus Bound will be held on Thursdays through Saturdays, September 5 – 28, 2013, with previews from August 29-31, at the Getty Villa’s Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater. Tickets go on sale July 1 and are $42 ($38 for students and seniors, $25 for preview performances). Tickets may be purchased online at www.getty.edu or by telephone at (310) 440-7300.
Prior to each evening’s performance, the museum galleries will open at 6:30 p.m. for theater-goers to enjoy the Villa’s collection and gardens. The Cafe at the Getty Villa will once again offer a special pre-theater prix fixe sit-down dinner.
About the Company
Director Travis Preston is Artistic Director of the CalArts Center for New Performance, the professional producing arm of California Institute of the Arts, and Dean of the CalArts School of Theater. He directs theater and opera throughout the world and recently directed the Master Builder at the Almeida Theater in London, starring Stephen Dillane and Gemma Arterton, which is currently being readied for film production. He also directed the acclaimed production of Macbeth with Stephen Dillane for CNP at REDCAT in Disney Hall, which subsequently performed at the Almeida Theatre in London and then traveled to Sydney and Adelaide, Australia. Upcoming projects include The Long Road to Freedom with Harry Belafonte. In 2006 he was named Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture for “contributions to the arts in France and throughout the world.”
Translator Joel Agee received the Berlin Prize of the American Academy in Berlin in 2008. Earlier, he had won the Helen and Kurt Wolff Prize for his translation of Heinrich von Kleist’s verse play Penthesilea. In 2005, he received the Modern Language Association’s Lois Roth Award for his translation of Hans Erich Nossack’s The End: Hamburg 1943, as well as the ALTA National Translation Award for his translation of the Selected Writings of Friedrich Dürrenmatt. He is the author of two acclaimed memoirs: “Twelve Years: An American Boyhood in East Germany” and, more recently, “In the House of My Fear.”
About the Cast
Prometheus will be played by Ron Cephas Jones, a celebrated New York-based actor, whose most recent credits include the title role in Richard III for the Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival and Caliban in The Bridge Project’s The Tempest, which was recently performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Old Vic in London, and on tour in Asia and France. Jones’ previous classical roles include Othello (directed by Rupert Goold, incoming artistic director of the Almeida Theater in London) and Ajax at the American Repertory Theater. His performance in Labyrinth Theater Company’s Jesus Hopped the A Train was lauded in both the United States and London, and for his performance in August Wilson’s Two Trains Running, Jones received a 2007 Obie Award for Sustained Excellence in the Theater. His film work includes the soon to be released Titus, in which he plays a jazz musician attempting to come to terms with his troubled past.
Mirjana Jokovic will play Io. Her distinguished career in the United States includes work on Broadway (Electra), at the American Repertory Theatre (Full Circle, Winter’s Tale, Mother Courage, Othello), San Francisco’s ACT (Three Sisters), and the McCarter Theatre in New Jersey (Romeo and Juliet). Her film work includes Serbian Girl, Vukovar, A Better Way to Die, and the leading role in Emir Kusturica’s Underground, which won the Palme d`Or at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival. Ms. Jokovic currently serves as Director of Performance at the CalArts School of Theater.
The ensemble also includes Michael Blackman (Hermes), Adam Haas Hunter (Kratos), Joseph Kamal (Okeanos), and Tony Sancho (Hephaistos). The 12-member chorus includes Sarah Beaty, Kaitlin Cornuelle, Genevieve Gearhart, Jennifer Greer, Heather Hewko, Paula Rebelo, Jessica Reed, Megan Rippey, Chuja Seo, Kalean Ung, Amanda Washko, and Tatiana Williams. Costume design is by Ellen McCartney; lighting design is by Anne Militello. Choreography is by Mira Kingsley. Producing this year’s production is Carol Bixler, Producing Director of CNP.
The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that includes the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute, and the Getty Foundation. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Malibu.
The J. Paul Getty Museum collects in seven distinct areas, including Greek and Roman antiquities, European paintings, drawings, manuscripts, sculpture and decorative arts, and photographs gathered internationally. The Museum’s mission is to make the collection meaningful and attractive to a broad audience by presenting and interpreting the works of art through educational programs, special exhibitions, publications, conservation, and research.
Visiting the Getty Villa The Getty Villa is open Wednesday through Monday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed Tuesday and major holidays. Admission to the Getty Villa is always free. A ticket is required for admission. Tickets can be ordered in advance, or on the day of your visit, at www.getty.edu/visit or at (310) 440-7300. Parking is $15 per car. Groups of 15 or more must make reservations by phone. For more information, call (310) 440-7300 (English or Spanish); (310) 440-7305 (TTY line for the deaf or hearing impaired). The Getty Villa is at 17985 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades, California.
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The CalArts Center for New Performance (CNP), the professional producing arm of the California Institute of the Arts, was established in 1999 as a forum for the creation of groundbreaking theatrical performance. Seminal artists from around the world are brought to CNP to develop work that expands the language, discourse, and boundaries of contemporary theater and performance. CNP supports a producing model that is artist and project-specific, giving priority to performances that cannot be easily produced in other circumstances — either because of scale of vision or extremity of aesthetic. CNP fosters the future of the theater by infusing its work with the talent, vitality and impulses of emerging artists in the CalArts community.
Trans Arts is dedicated to developing and presenting adventurous art and programs in all genres – including, performance, visual art, music, dance, theater, film, video and new media.