July 01, 2010

Annual Outdoor Theater Production at the Getty Villa to Debut New Translation of Sophocles' Elektra

Performances Begin September 9 and Continue Through October 2, 2010; Tickets on Sale Today

LOS ANGELES—Elektra, one of Sophocles’ most elegantly structured and emotionally wrenching works, will be the fifth annual outdoor theatrical production in the Getty Villa’s Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater. Directed by Carey Perloff, artistic director of the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, the classic Greek tragedy picks up where Agamemnon left off two years ago, following the murder of King Agamemnon. The production will debut a new translation of Sophocles’ Elektra by famed British playwright Timberlake Wertenbaker.

Performances of Elektra will be held Thursdays through Saturdays, September 9 — October 2, 2010, with previews from September 2 — 4. Tickets are $42.00 ($38.00 for students and seniors). Ticket prices for the previews are $20.00. Tickets go on sale today and are available by calling (310) 440-7300 or online at

The story of Elektra carries forward the tragic history of the House of Atreus. Years have passed since the bloody murder of King Agamemnon. While his widow Clytemnestra rules the city with an iron hand, their daughter Elektra lives imprisoned behind the walls of her mother’s palace. Every day, she prays to the gods that her exiled brother Orestes might return to avenge their fathers death, and every night, the silence of the gods drives her closer to madness.

Believed to have been written near the end of the playwright’s life, Elektra embodies Sophocles’ most profound portrait of a fragile human spirit, brilliantly ablaze with the warring, inner flames of hope and despair.

Perloff first directed Sophocles’ Elektra more than 20 years ago at the Classic Stage Company in New York, the world premiere of a version by poet Ezra Pound. Wertenbaker’s new translation, specially commissioned for this production, penetrates the emotional complexity not only of Elektra, but of the surrounding characters as well. Her version preserves the formal structure of the ancient language, while at the same time creating a vividly alive "contemporary" royal family pushed to the point of desperation.

The Getty Villa’s annual outdoor theater performance is part of an innovative theater program that enhances the visitor’s experience of the ancient world. Live performances of classical drama offer insight into the social, cultural, and political realities of life in ancient Greece and Rome. In the galleries, the works of art serve to deepen the connection between modern audiences and the mythical stories underlying the tragedies and comedies on stage.

In addition to the annual outdoor classical theater production, the Getty Villa’s indoor auditorium is host to the Villa Theater Lab series and the Villa Play-reading series of performances in the winter and spring that explore innovative approaches to the classical canon.

When paired with the exhibition The Art of Ancient Greek Theater (August 26, 2010 — January 3, 2011) and its related programming, this year’s outdoor theater performance offers a particularly rich experience for theater-goers. The exhibition will be on view before each evening’s performance of Elektra.

"The combination of this year’s outdoor theater performance and our special exhibition on Greek theater will give theater-goers a deeper understanding of the role theater played in ancient times," explains Karol Wight, senior curator of antiquities for the J. Paul Getty Museum. "Both in the exhibition and throughout the Museum’s permanent collection, several references to the story of Elektra and the tragedy of the House of Atreus can be seen in the images painted on ancient Greek vases. The play helps bring these two-dimensional images to life for modern audiences."

# # #


Desiree Zenowich
Getty Communications
(310) 440-7304

Timberlake Wertenbaker (Translator/Adaptor)
Timberlake Wertenbaker is an acclaimed playwright who grew up in the Basque Country, Southwest France. Plays include The Grace of Mary Traverse (Royal Court); Our Country’s Good (Royal Court and Broadway), Laurence Olivier Play of the Year, 1988 and New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award - Best New Foreign Play, 1991; The Love of the Nightingale (RSC) Eileen Anderson Central TV Drama Award; Three Birds Alighting on a Field (Royal Court), Susan Smith Blackburn Award, Writers’ Guild Award and London Critics’ Circle Award, 1992; Credible Witness (Royal Court); Galileo’s Daughter (Peter Hall Company at the Bath Theatre Festival); Arden City (NT Connections) and The Line (Arcola Theatre). Translations and adaptations include Ariane Mnouchkine’s Mephisto (RSC); Eduardo de Filippo’s Filumena (Peter Hall Company at the Piccadilly); Jean Anouilh’s Wild Orchids (Chichester Festival Theatre); Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannos, Oedipus at Kolonos, and Antigone (RSC); Euripides’ Hecuba (ACT, San Francisco); Gabriela Preissova’s Jenufa (Natural Perspective Theatre Company with the Arcola Theatre) and Euripides’ Hippolytus (Riverside Studios and tour). Timberlake is currently working on a new play for the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Carey Perloff (Director)
Carey Perloff is celebrating her 18th season as artistic director of Tony Award-winning American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) in San Francisco, where she is known for directing innovative productions of classics, championing new writing for the theater, and creating international collaborations with such artists as Robert Wilson and Tom Stoppard. Before joining A.C.T., Perloff was artistic director of Classic Stage Company (CSC) in New York. She is a recipient of France’s Chevalier de lOrdre des Arts et des Lettres and the National Corporate Theatre Fund’s 2007 Artistic Achievement Award. She received a B.A. Phi Beta Kappa in classics and comparative literature from Stanford University and was a Fulbright Fellow at Oxford. She has taught at The Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and in the Master of Fine Arts Program at A.C.T. and is the author of numerous plays. This is Perloff’s second encounter with Sophocles’ Elektra, having directed the world premiere of Ezra Pound’s version of the play at CSC in 1988.

About the Getty:

The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that features the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Getty Research Institute. 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.

Sign up for e-Getty at to receive free monthly highlights of events at the Getty Center and the Getty Villa via e-mail, or visit our event calendar for a complete calendar of public programs.

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 or at (310) 440-7300. Parking is $15 per car, but $10 after 5 p.m. for evening events. Reservations are required for groups of 15 or more. For more information, call (310) 440-7300 (English or Spanish). The TTY line for callers who are deaf or hearing impaired is (310) 440-7305. The Getty Villa is at located at 17985 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades, California.




You must be logged in to view this item.

This area is reserved for members of the news media. If you qualify, please update your user profile and check the box marked "Check here to register as an accredited member of the news media". Please include any notes in the "Supporting information for media credentials" box. We will notify you of your status via e-mail in one business day.