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The Oresteia

Get a behind the scenes look at The Oresteia by viewing the production journal.

The Oresteia

By Kristin Muckerheide '11

The Department of Theatre Arts and the Multimedia Program will give us a little taste of history as they put a modern spin on an old favorite with their upcoming performance of The Oresteia. Originally a trilogy of Greek tragedies written by ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus, The Oresteia was first performed at the Dionysia festival in 458 BC in Athens where it won first prize.

Murder, lies, and betrayal are always grounds for a juicy story, but along with the many unique elements and effects incorporated into the play by the two departments, this will be a performance not to miss.

Students and staff from the Multimedia Program and Department of Theatre Arts have been working hard to make this play a reality. George Brown, professor of Theatre at Bradley and one of the co-directors of the play, said that the script for The Oresteia has been developed over the last year and a half with many students, faculty, and staff collaborating from both departments. The performance will be utilizing composite video, avatar performers, 5.1 surround sound, push text messaging (SMS), virtual scenery, photographs, graphics and sound.

Brown said that what is special about this play is, “We’re blending many, many processes that don’t traditionally go together. It’s truly a convergence of multiple disciplines. In the moments of true convergence you see that the elements all work together to the same end to tell a dynamic story.”

“We’re utilizing some unique theatrical conventions and elements that are tied to this production,” said Brown, citing the use of puppets. Dani Keil, a graduate student from Illinois State University, is working as the puppet master on this project. The production will be using larger-than-life size puppets to represent the servant class, as well as incorporating many other elements of media to work along side with the actors during the performance.

Although this isn’t the first time a play at Bradley has used such media elements or technological effects, Brown said, “This is probably the most advanced use of those elements that we’ve done. We’ve been developing processes and gathering resources throughout the years, so the cumulative growth of those resources has allowed us to be able to develop this challenging production.”

The story of The Oresteia is around 2,500 years old, and Brown explained that those working on the production “sought out to create a voice that speaks of the evolution of justice as it relates to the 21st century.”

This storyline is significant in the world today because it’s about how justice has changed and evolved from the times of Ancient Greece when The Oresteia was written, to the present. “The story is about why the change is needed,” Brown said. “We live in a world that’s in the throws of convergence. The reason we want people to come see this play is to see this dynamic story.”

Jim Ferolo, the director of the Multimedia Program at Bradley, is working alongside Brown as co-director of the play. The duo also worked together in 2007 to create "The Adding Machine," a play that used Internet2 technology to beam in actors from Florida and Canada.

Erich Keil is the faculty scenery and sound designer, but Brown explained that student designers are in charge as well, working alongside staff for most of the sectors of the play production.

Performances of The Oresteia begin with the premiere Thursday, Nov. 13, at 8 p.m. and will continue through Nov. 23, with performances Thursday through Saturday night, and Sunday afternoon.

Shows on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings are at 8 p.m., and the shows on Sunday are at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $7 for students, $12 for faculty, staff, and senior citizens, and $14 for the general public. Tickets may be purchased at the Hartmann Center now, or may be reserved online. Tickets reserved online must be picked up at the box office before the show.