Directed by Mark Greenfield
Produced by The Faux-Real Theatre Company in association with LaMaMa ETC
Nominated for: Outstanding Innovative Design, Lynda White (Mask Design); Outstanding Original Music, Jonathan Elliott, Mark Greenfield, Tony Naumovski, Emily Serotta
About the Production
Faux-Real Theatre Company’s production of The Bacchae employed music, dancing, masks, and audience engagement. Described as a “feast for the senses,” they made this 5th century BC Euripidean tragedy poignant and immediate for modern NYC audiences.
Director Mark Greenfield, Designer Lynda White, and Composers Jonathan Elliott and Tony Naumovski talk about bringing this ancient Greek classic to life.
What attracted you to this production?
Mark: Faux-Real had been doing immersive devised theatre projects since 1997. We wanted to apply our aesthetic to traditional scripts. The broad gestural style and heightened language of Greek theatre, as well as the built in element of direct audience address makes The Bacchae and other Greek plays an ideal match for our non-naturalistic approach.
Jonathan: I was eager to hear how my music would be used in a new production of the play
Lynda: I have been working on Greek Tragedies with Faux Real theater for seven years. It has been very rewarding to develop the visual language over the years with a variety of Greek classics.
Tony: Working with Mark Greenfield is always exciting and innovative. I love his energy, talent, enthusiasm and dedication. And he is an amazing director.
What was your favorite part of working on this production?
Lynda: Mark Greenfield (director), Jeff Wood (music) and I went to Antioch College together many moons ago. Mark is a very dynamic director and we all have a long history of making art together. The process is intense and rich. The cast was strong with a combination of veterans of Faux Real and new actors who had open minds and hearts. LaMaMa is an amazing venue to work in, my favorite.
Mark: Seeing this archaic spectacle brought into ferocious existence by such an amazing cast and crew.
Jonathan: I loved the wonderful spirit and energy of the performers, and the fact that I have loved the play for decades
Tony: Playing Tiresias with closed eyes (for real) and opening my eyes as a specific stylistic choice at only one moment in the show. In addition pretty much performing as Tiresias more so as a musical instrument, with its own signature and specificity, rather than a character in the traditional sense. Although this angle of interpretation is a unique character blend of the soundscape of voice and movement of the body, music, costume and props and most importantly the silence.
What was the most challenging part of working on this production?
Tony: Well I did most of the music for it, which is always a new test for me cause I grew up with music more so than with acting and my expectations are very high. Then, a great deal of the show is soundscape which is always a balance of not too much not too less. And then how do we mix and make this ancient tunes and sounds also contemporary and not distant ourselves from the modern audiences.
Playing Tiresias with closed eyes (for real) and opening my eyes as a specific stylistic choice at only one moment in the show. In addition pretty much performing as Tiresias more so as a musical instrument with its own signature and specificity rather than a character in the traditional sense. Although this angle of interpretation is a unique character blend of the soundscape of voice and movement of the body, music, costume and props and most importantly the silence.
Jonathan: Getting the singers to sing challenging material with a naturalistic quality
Mark: Time constraints and budgetary constraints are always our biggest challenge.
What did you want the audience to come away with after watching The Bacchae?
Mark: I wanted the audience to realize that Greek theatre is thrilling and entertaining and more transgressive in many ways than our modern experimental theatre.
What was the oddest part of this production?
Mark: During our show, seeing Andrew Bryce as Dionysus, it was actually as if the deity himself had come to life.
Tony: Everything about working with Mark is odd and quirky and innovative and that's why I love it. LOL
What is is like working with the Faux-Real Theatre Company and LaMaMa?
Tony: It is a very artistic and highly creative environment. Not pretentious. Open and Free.
What was it like working with Lynda, Tony, Jonathan, and Emily?
Mark: Lynda White approaches mask making and design with a belief that theatre is a transformational experience. She believes in theatre as something that transcends the quotidian and leads to the divine.
The music of Tony Naumovski, Jonathan Elliot and Emily Serotta captures the erie trance inducing magic that I have always imagined the songs of the ancient Greeks to sound like. Tony's background in Macedonian music lends a direct historic link to the sounds of ancient Athens. Jonathan Elliot's compositions are both rooted in extensive training, and in a keen sense of intuition that allows for songs that stretch the boundaries of melody. Emily Serotta's background in chanting and chorus work helped bind and free the voices of our Bacchants.
You can follow these artists on Twitter
Faux-Real Theatre Company - @FauxRealTheater
LaMaMa ETC - @LaMaMaETC
Jonathan Elliot - @ElliottJonathan