I don’t know whether I told you that I was formally adopted into the Other Company – Nina’s people – last April. I was already their resident author, and now am a full member, and will start teaching play-writing in the Company’s school next October. Also – possibly the most thrilling aspect of my change of status – I’ll get to direct my own Lunedì this year…
The Lunedìs are a yearly series of six free nights: staged readings centred around a theme. I love the Lunedìs: they are small but carefully done affairs, flexible in nature and very popular with the audience – which means that you get to experiment things before a packed house. I’ve written for the Lunedìs before, but now I’ll get to stage and direct my own… as I said, I’m thrilled, and also a tad terrified. It doesn’t help that this year’s theme is “Psyche and Mythos”: we work with a bunch of key characters from Greek tragedy, chosen to be relevant to modern psychiatry. And out of the lot, I got Oedipus…
This has meant, lately, a lot of re-reading of things I’d read in school. Read, and partly translated, and agonized over, and analyzed to death – and, to be perfectly frank, not much enjoyed. But, as often happens, now that I’m older, and have a chance to read them in full, as plays and studies of human nature, the works of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides have come alive to me, with their depth, and intensity, and combination of archaic stylization and universals.
And I mention the whole tragic trinity because, as I read and read, I realized that what I want to focus on is the three-generation chain of violations and curses that surrounds Oedipus. His killing his father and bedding his mother, no matter how he tries to wriggle free of the prophecy, takes a whole new sense when you set it against the fateful way he and his whole family end up violating each and every tenet of Greek belief.
And because no one play would let me show that, I’ve taken things from Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus, the Seven Against Thebes and the Phoenician Women, and kneaded them together… Yes, I can hear philologists shudder from here – and I still have to hear from Nina The Artistic Director about it – but I really, really hope my Patchwork Oedipus gets the green light.
I wish that my teenage self, poring over an old Greek dictionary and taking notes in blue pencil, could have known. I already had an obsession with theatre, and loved my ancient Greek, as a rule – but the tragedies I couldn’t bring myself to like. I found them so stiff, and archaic, and un-theatrical… Ah well, all that analyzing and agonizing back in school certainly served to equip me for the work I’m doing now – and for my first direction with the Company.
Then I guess it was all a matter of growing older, and coming back to it, and closing the circle. Now I can’t wait to see what comes of it. I’ll let you know.