A year ago I posted about some events at the 2014 Philadelphia Fringe Festival that continued Philadelphia’s long conversation with ancient Greece and Rome. Fringe artists used Greek drama (Antigone and Oedipus Rex), the Iliad, the myth of Arethusa, Aesop, and Livy’s story of the rape of Lucretia as channeled by Shakespeare to think about gender, violence, feminism, and psychology; the Greeks, as always, were good to think with.
Fringe 2015 seems to have fewer events built on classical foundations. I found three:
- Hannah Van Sciver’s Fifty Days at Iliam explores the Trojan War as told in the drawings of Cy Twombley.
- Like a Bat out of Hades looks like fun: an adaptation of Euripides’ Alcestis from Ombelico Mask Ensemble “told in the physical, raucous style that only OME can do.”
- The Fall uses Hesiod’s myth of Pandora and others to tell “a new and old story of how one moment of temptation can change the world.”
These events matter because they are part of Philadelphia’s use of Greece and Rome through performance. They are our way of engaging, in this moment of our history, with an important strand of our culture. Fifty Days at Iliam draws on Cy Twombley’s drawings at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I look at them several times a year. They are always new. The Fall uses actors from local schools. Ombelico Mask Ensemble is based in Philadelphia. Classical reception can transcend national boundaries, and Anne Carson’s Antigone in New York or the Bacchae in London are national events that will draw audiences and reviews from all over. The Philly Fringe performances are ours, and they will speak, I hope, to what it means to use the Iliad or Alcestis or Pandora as part of your life in Philadelphia in 2015 .