Classical Myth and Theater in the Twin Cities Posted on March 25th, 2011 by

It’s been a good month for Greek mythology and modern drama in Minnesota.  Two plays reimagine well-known Greek myths into modern American contexts.

Last night, members of the Classics Dept, Eta Sigma Phi, and the Advanced Greek and Myth and Meaning classes caravanned up to the Cities to catch Oedipus El Rey, a unique collaboration of Teatro del Pueblo and Pangaea theater companies. Luis Alfaro’s retelling sets the well-known Oedipus story in the modern context of a prison and a Los Angeles barrio. There are some interesting things to consider here, such as the push and pull of old-world tradition against American dreams (mythologies?) of self-made men.

The second production, The 7-Shot Symphony, combines Greek, Norse, and Native-American myths and legends and sets them within the context of an American western.  The Greek entry here is the story of Orpheus’ search for his dead wife Eurydice in the underworld.  The action takes place in Deus County run by Governor Gil (as in ‘Gilgamesh’) and Sheriff Odin Greybeard. There are a lot of things to think about here as well, such as how European and Native-American myths operate in America’s own mythological setting of the Old West.

It’s an intriguing pairing of retellings.  One that, although most likely coincidental, is no less thought-provoking. Together they raise interesting questions about the way that ancient stories can be a useful vehicle for examining the multiple constructions of American identity in its mix of old and new–both the continuity of cultural mixing as a fundamental part of American heritage as well as the ever-present tensions that arise in the process.  Both plays run until March 27th.  You can read reviews and get more information here:


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