Barricade Arts is thrilled to be collaborating with Flying Pig theatre on Catriona Bolt's latest production - a new adaptation of Euripides' 'Bacchae'. Using innovative live audio processing, we are turning the set into an interactive surface on which the cast can create the music and sound for the show. Combining contact microphones with custom built electronic and acoustic instruments, this production reimagines the way in which music can function in theatre, fully integrating it into the ritualistic action of the play.
Flying Pig Theatre company, made up of current Oxford students and recent graduates, is making their Edinburgh Fringe debut with a new version of Euripides’ Bacchae, showing all month at theSpace UK’s Surgeon’s Hall. From the team behind last year’s The Master and Margarita (*****, Three Weeks), comes an imaginative retelling of this ancient tragedy.
Dionysos, disguised as a mortal, arrives at Thebes in a blaze of lightning, appropriate given his origins; in the prologue he retells the death of his pregnant mother, Semele, a daughter of Thebes who was killed when Zeus came to her in a bolt of lightning. The baby was spotted in her ruins and sewn up in Zeus’ thigh, from which he was born a god. He now seeks revenge for his aunts’ mistreatment of his mother and hubris against himself. Dionysos drives the Theban women mad, undermining Pentheus’ authority. He allows himself to be captured, and causes yet more havoc, this time in the form of an earthquake. Descriptions reach Thebes of the Maenads’ (Dionysos’ followers) wild escapades; Pentheus is persuaded by the god to dress as a woman and go amongst them. The play ends with Agave, Pentheus’ mother, holding up her son’s head in triumph: they said it was a mountain lion. Her grief is terrible. Her father Kadmos sends his daughters into an exile separate from his own fate as a snake, the family’s punishment complete and a dubious order restored.
Euripides’ tragedy is preoccupied with distinctly modern concerns: ritualised violence, sexuality, and gender. It uses the freedom of the bacchanal to explore the darker side of female sexuality, and to question the humanity of ritual. The controlling nature of the Theban men is set against the permissiveness of Dionysian culture; the Maenads’ triumphant bacchanal state blurs violence and sex in a whirlwind that offers questions, but few answers. Our production will experiment with innovative use of live sound, combining haunting vocals with an interactive set. Extended physical theatre sequences will heighten the dreamlike atmosphere, and will be used to show the bacchanal itself.
The Space @ Surgeons' Hall
4th - 26th August