The Classical Theatre of Harlem (Ty Jones, Producing Artistic Director) presents “The Bacchae” inspired by Bryan Doerries’ new version of Euripides’ classic Greek tragedy. Back for its seventh season of free theater performances and affectionately known as the “Uptown Shakespeare in the Park,” the Classical Theatre of Harlem (CTH) is thrilled to return to Marcus Garvey Park this summer presenting a work that continues the company’s investigation of the current political and social climate via the Greek classics.
Set in the modern era, Dionysus (God of wine and ecstasy) returns to his hometown in order to clear his mother’s name and punish the insolent city for not allowing its citizens to worship him. The clash between Dionysus played as a modern-day rock star and his cousin Pentheus, the uncompromising and moralistic king of the city, examines the consequences of a general public that blindly follows two vastly different leaders. Dionysus represents unbridled freedom and excess while on the other end of the spectrum, Pentheus epitomizes excessive law, order and rigidity. As society slides into fear and tribalism, its citizen’s rationale becomes clouded as they blindly take orders and pick sides rather than seek moderation and rationality.
CTH’s interpretation is a lush and modern version of the classic Greek tragedy that tackles the ills of a culture obsessed with celebrity worship, social media and fear of the other, causing people to lose the ability to see the truth — that people in power are fallible…until it’s far too late.
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An updated version that is suitable for older children (10 and up), CTH’s adaptation of “The Bacchae” accomplishes a fidelity to the original while giving the company the flexibility to showcase the ways in which ancient ideas have taken center stage in the current political and social climate. Calling on the cultural landscape of African American traditions, while adhering to the Greek tragic form, this fresh reimagining of the classic story will captivate, stun and inspire audiences from all backgrounds.
The company of “The Bacchae” includes Jason C. Brown (as Dionysus; The Misanthrope, Duchess of Malfi). The ensemble features choreography by Tiffany Rea-Fisher (Artistic Director of Elisa Monte Dance) and is performed by dancers from Elisa Monte Dance.
“ ‘The Bacchae’ is the perfect play to reflect our current political and social atmosphere. Styled like a Quentin Tarantino film with comedic, absurd, tragic, and musical components, this work brings to the forefront ancient ideas that are still relevant to contemporary society” said Carl Cofield, Director of “The Bacchae.”
“What I applaud about Greek plays is that they are unafraid to question everything we value – including life. This new version of ‘The Bacchae’ by Bryan Doerries gives us insight into the tension between living our lives by extreme authoritarian order or indulging in extreme pleasure. We are living in an era where broad, unique distinctions are being made about identity in direct contrast to authoritarian efforts to minimize individualism. This story tells us that the result of either of these extremes leads to consequences from which there is no return.” – Ty Jones, Producing Artistic Director of The Classical Theatre of Harlem.
Carl Cofield is a New York-based, award-winning director and actor. He directed the award-winning world premiere of “One Night in Miami” ( Huffington Post “Best of L.A. 2013,” N.A.A.C.P., L.A. Drama Critics Circle and others) for Rogue Machine Theater, Denver Center Theatre and Miami New Drama. NYC directing credits include: The 50th anniversary revival of “The Dutchman” (AUDELCO nominee for Best Director), “Antigone,” and “Macbeth” for The Classical Theatre of Harlem. Regional credits include: “Twelfth Night” at Yale Repertory Theater. “A Raisin in the Sun” at Two River Theater Company. “Henry IV” part 2 at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, “Disgraced” at Denver Center, and “The Mountaintop” at Cleveland PlayHouse.
As an actor, his work has been seen at The Manhattan Theater Club (“Ruined”), Berkeley Rep, Alliance, Arena Stage, The Shakespeare Theater, Intiman, Actors Theater of Louisville, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Milwaukee Rep, Alabama Shakespeare, The McCarter, The Acting Company, The Studio Theatre and many others.
The Classical Theatre of Harlem (CTH) is an American theatre company that tells stories as seen through the lens of the African diaspora and does work that honors the cultural legacy of the neighborhood in which it was founded: Harlem. CTH combines original adaptations, music, and dance to present great classics of world literature as well as contemporary works that will stand the test of time while being truly reflective of the diversity of ideas and racial tapestry that is America. Since its founding in 1999, CTH has presented works ranging from traditional classical playwrights (Anton Chekhov, Euripides, and William Shakespeare), to established 20th-century playwrights (August Wilson, Langston Hughes, and Jean Genet) to new plays by emerging playwrights. CTH also proudly provides theater-based training and live theater experiences to Harlem youth and their families through its arts education program, Project Classics. The organization engages new audiences, provides artistic development of new work, and gives exposure to emerging playwrights with its free reading series: Future Classics and Playwrights’ Playground.
Major support for CTH is provided by Axe-Houghton Foundation, The Braugher Family, Casement Fund, Coalition of Theatres of Color, The Columbus Foundation, ConEdison, The Cultural Immigrant Initiative, Dorris Duke Charitable Foundation, Douglas & Paige Armentrout, Ford Foundation, Google, Harlem Community Development Corporation, Howard Gilman Foundation, Jarvis & Constance Doctorow Family Foundation, L & N Andreas Foundation, Luther & Deborah Ragin, National Endowment for the Arts, New York Community Trust, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, NYC Department of Parks & Recreation, NYSCA, The Office of Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, The Office of NYC Councilmember Bill Perkins, The Office of NYC Councilmember Mark Levine, Robert & Mercedes Eichholz Foundation, SHS Foundation, and Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone.
Free, Saturday, July 6th-28th, 2019, 8:30 pm ET
Tickets: FREE to the general public, no reservations required.
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The Classical Theatre of Harlem’s production of “The Bacchae” will be showing at:
The Richard Rodgers Amphitheater at Marcus Garvey Park, 18 Mt Morris Park W, New York, NY 10027 (Enter the park at 124th Street & Fifth Avenue and walk south to the venue), http://www.cthnyc.org.