This fall, the Getty Villa presents an alternative history of Helen of Troy in Euripides’ rarely performed play Helen
, a new production by Los Angeles-based Playwrights’ Arena, directed by artistic director Jon Lawrence Rivera. This new adaptation by playwright Nick Salamone of Euripides’ surprising twist on the legend of Helen is the seventh annual outdoor theater production in the Getty Villa’s Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater.
In this version of her story, written just three years after his Trojan Women, Euripides’ Helen is no wanton seductress, but rather a faithful wife and innocent victim of Olympian plots. By a trick of the gods, this Helen never travels to Troy at all, but is replaced by a phantom double before she can be kidnapped by the Trojan prince Paris. Magically transported by Hermes to Egypt for safekeeping, the real Queen Helen waits out the Trojan War in an ironic celibacy, far from the battle.
Euripides’ play picks up Helen’s story seventeen years later, as the now middle-aged queen—stranded on the banks of the Nile, oblivious of her infamy and ignorant of the War’s outcome—wonders whether the gods, the world, and above all her husband have forgotten her forever. As the plot unfolds, an irreverent fantasy ensues, filled with mistaken identities, daredevil escapes, and the inevitable “deus ex machina.”
“Largely overlooked and rarely performed, Euripides’ story of Helen makes you rethink the most vilified woman in Greek drama,” says Jon Lawrence Rivera, the founding artistic director of Playwrights’ Arena, which is dedicated to discovering, nurturing and producing bold new works for the stage written exclusively by Los Angeles playwrights. This production of Euripides’ Helen at the Getty Villa is the centerpiece of Playwrights’ Arena’s 20th anniversary season.
“The premiere of a new adaptation of Euripides’ Helen is the perfect way to follow last year’s presentation of Trojan Women at the Getty Villa,” says Claire Lyons, acting senior curator of antiquities at the J. Paul Getty Museum. "In Trojan Women, Euripides portrays Helen of Troy as a villain and cynical manipulator. In Helen, written just a few years later, the playwright reinvented her as a witty, delightful, and remarkably resourceful heroine.”
Performances of Euripides’ Helen
will be held Thursday through Saturday, September 6 through 29, 2012 at 8:00 p.m., with previews from August 30 through September 1. Tickets are $42 ($38 for students and seniors, $25 for preview performances). On sale today (July 2), tickets are available by calling 310-440-7300 or online at getty.edu
Before each evening’s performance, the museum galleries will be open for theater-goers to enjoy the Villa’s collection, gardens and the exhibition The Last Days of Pompeii: Decadence, Apocalypse, Resurrection, opening September 12.
The Café at the Getty Villa will once again offer a special pre-theater prix fixe sit-down dinner. More information on this and other dining options can be found on the Getty’s website, where reservations can be made for the prix fixe dinner.
The Getty Villa’s annual outdoor theater production is part of a year-round 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.
“Theater was a fundamental part of religious and social life in the ancient world, and as the Villa’s theater program shows, Classical drama still resonates powerfully with contemporary playwrights, actors, and audiences," adds Lyons.
The Getty Villa’s indoor auditorium is host to the Villa Theater Lab and the Villa Play-reading series of performances in the winter and spring that explore innovative approaches to the classical canon. Other special events including lectures and talks also take place in the Villa auditorium throughout the year.
About Jon Lawrence Rivera
A five-time Ovation Award nominee, Mr. Rivera is the founding artistic director of Playwrights’ Arena and his productions have garnered over 100 local and international awards. Recent directing credits include Unmerciful Good Fortune by Edwin Sanchez; Bonded by Donald Jolly (2012 GLAAD Award nomination); The Sonneteer by Nick Salamone (Los Angeles Times Best Play of 2011; Blood Wedding by Federico Garcia Lorca; Calligraphy by Velina Hasu Houston, Road to Saigon at East West Players, Jacques Brel at the Colony Theatre and Oedipus el Rey by Luis Alfaro at the Getty Villa Theater Lab and at the Theatre @ Boston Court. Other works include: The Last Five Years by Jason Robert Brown, Miss Saigon by Schönberg/Boublil, Ruby, Tragically Rotund by Boni B. Alvarez, Laws of Sympathy by Oliver Mayer, The Joy Luck Club by Susan Kim, Sea Change by Nick Salamone (2009 LA Weekly Award), The Third from the Left by Jean Colonomos (2008 NY Fringe Festival), Hillary Agonistes by Nick Salamone (2007 NY Fringe Festival Award), and Dogeaters by Jessica Hagedorn.
About Nick Salamone
Nick Salamone is the author of ten full-length produced plays: Another House on Mercy Street, All Souls’ Day, Riffs and Credos, Moscow, Red Hat & Whale Watchers, Hillary Agonistes, Gulls, Sea Change, and The Sonneteer. Salamone is the 2007 recipient of the Playwrights’ Arena Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Los Angeles Theatre Community. He has twice received the Beverly Press Maddy Award for excellence in playwriting, and the Backstage Garland Award for Best Score of a Musical. He has also won the LA Weekly Award, Garland Award and Ovation nomination for Best Adaptation; and two LA Weekly Award nominations for Best New Play. His most recent work, The Sonneteer, was listed by the Los Angeles Times, LA Stage Times and Entertainment Today among the best new plays of 2011. Moscow has received the Edinburgh International Fringe Festival’s Fringe First Award for New Writing as well as its Audience Favorite Award. He is an alumnus of the Nautilus Music-Theatre Workshop and graduated summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa from Tufts University with a B.A. in English and Drama.
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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.
Additional information is available at www.getty.edu.
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