Greek Tragedy at Getty Villa

By TRILBY BERESFORD | Reporter

“Bacchae” is widely considered one of the greatest ancient tragedies. Perhaps this is because it tackles hearty subjects that remain relevant today, such as navigating societal tension and how best to live one’s life to the fullest.

With the play soon to arrive at a beautiful modern stage in Castellammare, theatergoers will have the opportunity to explore these ideas.

The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa will present a theatrical run of “Bacchae” in the Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater from Sept. 6-29. To ensure a romantic and old-timey feel, the venue is outdoors.

Anne Bogart, from the SITI Company in New York, directs the production. She runs the Graduate Theater program at Columbia University, and has authored five books designed to educate and encourage those who are theatrically minded. Poet Aaron Poochigian is responsible for the new translation.

“Packed with striking scenes, frenzied emotion, and choral songs of great power and beauty, ‘Bacchae’ endures as one of Euripides’ greatest surviving works,” the press release stated.

“Dionysus, the god of wine, ritual madness, fertility and theater, arrives in disguise to his birthplace in Greece. As revenge for a personal slight, he begins to spread his cult among the people of Thebes … ”

Early performances of “Bacchae” date back to 405 B.C., which is hard for our modern brains to comprehend. Athenian playwright Euripides didn’t live to see his play staged, though he enjoyed accolades during his lifetime.

There have been numerous dramatic adaptations since the 1960s, most notably a TV version by Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman. “Bacchae” has also appeared in operatic and musical form.

Each fall, the Getty Villa is committed to showcasing a rigorous program of classical drama, aware that it continues to inspire curiosity and attract new followers. “Bacchae” is a bold move, yet more accessible than it may initially seem.

Visit getty.edu or call 310-440-7300 for ticketing information.