Sophocles' explosive ELECTRA launches Villanova Theatre's 2016-2017 Season

Virgin sacrifice. Infidelity. Murder... and that's just the prologue.

Sophocles' explosive ELECTRA launches Villanova Theatre's 2016-2017 Season

VILLANOVA, PA - Villanova Theatre is proud to present Frank McGuinness' gripping and suspenseful adaptation of Sophocles' classic tragedy, Electra, directed by Rev. David Cregan, OSA, PhD, and on stage September 20-October 2, 2016. Cregan's visionary new production promises a story that is as old as time and as shocking as today's headlines.

Following the murder of her father at the hands of her mother, Electra lives in exile gripped by a furious desire to avenge his death. When her brother, Orestes, returns to claim the throne as its rightful heir, a tragedy of sacrifice, betrayal, and assassination ignites the stage in this action-packed re-telling of the ancient Greek drama. As Electra's rage explodes without mercy, we are propelled to the play's bitter and bloody conclusion. The New York Times calls this fast and furious adaptation by McGuinness "soul-satisfying drama at its most passionately, intensely alive." 

According to director Cregan, "Electra, unlike many other Greek tragedies, bears the name of its female heroine in its title. I am fascinated that Sophocles shows us this ancient story from a perspective we've never heard before. As her own protagonist, Electra is able to articulate her story without being subject to men. I am fascinated by what power and agency looks like for women who are trapped in a patriarchal system. I think the gender dynamics of the play are completely relevant to the world we find ourselves in today. More importantly, I am captivated by Electra in terms of political activism. Ultimately the play asks us, do we submit to the powers that be or do we raise our voices tirelessly in the name of justice?"

Filled with political intrigue, civil war, unexpected humor, and crippling sorrow, McGuinness' adaptation of this ancient tragedy is as lurid and fascinating as a modern-day tabloid crime story. Set in a time without boundaries or rules, Electra's rage unfurls across the stage, with the lines between past and present continually blurred. The agonizing tale of the House of Atreus reveals one of history's most dysfunctional families. Electra's obsessive rage is unhinged by her mother, Clytemnestra, confused by her reluctant sister, Chrysothemis, and reinforced by her long-lost brother, Orestes. This complex family dynamic shapes the course of the play in profound and powerful ways. McGuinness, widely regarded as the greatest contemporary translator of Greek drama, loves "the passion and precision of [the Ancients'] writing.  The very best Greek plays waste nothing. There is a raw relentlessness in their plots and a wonderful integrity to their passion."

Setting the tone for this visceral theatrical experience is the head of Villanova University's Theatre Department, Rev. David Cregan, OSA, PhD, who is known for awakening theatrical language through dance and movement. Rev. Cregan seeks to create a world that is built through the collision of forces: primal instincts release in graceful poetry, many voices emerge as one through the mesmerizing Chorus, the familiar and strange weave together to form a tapestry of ancestral violence, and as Electra's fire burns within her, Rev. Cregan wants audiences to see the House of Atreus begin to bleed.

According to Cregan, "Electra, herself, cannot help but live in her darkness. In our society we often try to conceal our own shadows in fear of not being accepted, of exposing our vulnerable humanity to others. I am fascinated by these characters and where they hide both the light and darkness that lives within them. I want to expose each character in honest exploration of their body and psyche, and unleash these timeless figures onstage in a grandiose and epic style that the Ancient Greeks were known for."

A team of seasoned, imaginative designers join Rev. Cregan in bringing to life the simple and elegant world of this "sleek and hypnotic" play (The New York Times). Three-time Barrymore Award winner Janus Stefanowicz's costumes evoke both the modern and ancient earthiness of the Greeks. Rajiv Shah's set design creates an epic open space that drops audiences into a time that floats between both past and present. Lighting Designer Jerold Forsyth and Sound Designer John Stovicek complete this powerful team of artists, to create a landscape of suspense and tension that propels the play to its inevitable conclusion.

Rev. Cregan directs an incredible ensemble who will bring this enthralling cycle of revenge to life. First-year acting scholars Kara Krichman (Electra) and Megan Slater (Clytemnestra) make their debuts at Villanova Theatre alongside first-year graduate students Megan Schumacher (Chorus) and Sisi Wright (Chorus). They will be joined by second-year acting scholars Dan Cullen (Aegisthus) and Chris Monaco (Servant), second-year graduate students Laura Barron (Chorus), Mike Franz (Pylades), Patrick McAndrew (Orestes), Rachel O'Hanlon-Rodriguez (Chrysothemis), Kasey Phillips (Chorus), and Lexi Schreiber (Chorus), and part-time graduate student Kelly McAnally (Chorus).

Electra runs at Villanova Theatre from September 20th- October 2nd, 2016. Speaker's Night, immediately following the performance on Thursday, September 29th, will feature commentary from Villanova University Performance Studies professor Dr. Heidi Rose (see full biographical information below). Villanova Theatre is located on the Villanova University campus in Vasey Hall (at Lancaster & Ithan Aves.). Performances will be held Tuesdays - Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets run $21-$25, with discounts available for seniors, students, M.A. in Theatre alumni, and groups. Tickets may be purchased at the Villanova Theatre Box Office (M-S, 12 -5 p.m.) in person, by phone: (610) 519-7474, or online at www.villanovatheatre.org.