Boston Playwrights Riff Off the Greeks

Essayons Theatre Company has announced plans to present Europhochylus, Massachusetts, a festival of world premiere plays set in New England incorporating elements of Greek tragedies and myths.

Consisting of six 1-hour plays presented over two evenings, the festival will run from May 14 - May 29 at the Boston Center for the Arts. In preparation for the festival, participating playwrights were asked to read classic Greek plays and then incorporate appropriate elements, themes, characters and situations into their own work.

For Essayons Theatre Company Co-Artistic Director Art Hennessey, the result was a sociopolitical study told through the eyes of laborers.

"Evil things are sown through war and empire building in the Greek plays," says Hennessey. "However, in American drama, the enemy has increasingly been the American Dream, and the role of the corporation and the organization in the military, politics, religion, and our daily lives. In 'Mowing the Parched Earth,' I tried to see how these two themes could connect."
The plays will be presented in two programs, each featuring three works.

Program A

"Desire" by Josh Rollins
A seaman's family experiences the torment of a scorned Aphrodite in a riff off the "Hippolytus" tragedy. A prostitute taunts a young stepmother who finds herself becoming attracted to her stepson.
"Europhochylus House of Pizza" by Kate Hundley
In this clever updating of Sophocles' "Philoctetes," a washed up ballplayer just cut from the Red Sox, gets lessons on career and curses from the Bambino.
"Mowing the Parched Earth" by Art Hennessey
Euripides "Iphegenia" and Sophocles' "Women of Trachis" are woven into this drama of three landscapers who piece together the tale of their foreman's family demise.

Program B

"Megan" by Irina Salimov
A woman attempts to come to terms with the end of a relationship, as conspiring, allegiant and defensive aspects duel for control. In a succession of battles amidst a psychic dreamscape, inner voices propel her on a journey that includes everything from lessons in the symbolic meanings of notes to the ramifications of psychological surgery.
"Dryope in Common" by Nancy Hurlbut
In this updating of the Greek myth "Dryope," a new Beacon Hill mother and her younger sister argue about life choices until a stranger emerges from the Frog Pond in the Public Garden and introduces an option they had never considered.  
"Chorus Girls" by Amanda Good Hennessey
The Wentworth family of Wellesley had it all: money, fame, power, dysfunction, and even their own personal chorus! Now things have changed on the estate and the chorus girls aren't going to stand for it anymore. Delve into the psyche of the Greek chorus in this delightful skewering of the staple convention of the Greek tragedies.

The Program schedule is as follows:
Friday, May 14      •       8:00 P.M. Program A
Saturday, May 16      •       8:00 P.M. Program B
Thursday, May 20      •       8:00 P.M. Program A
Friday,May 21      •       8:00 P.M. Program B
Saturday, May 22      •       4:00 P.M. Program B / 8:00 P.M. Program A
Thursday, Mayh 27      •       8:00 P.M. Program B
Friday, May 28      •       8:00 P.M. Program A
Saturday, May 29      •       4:00 P.M. Program A / 8:00 P.M. Program B

The actors for the festival will include: David Grant Beck, Edwin F. Beschler, Jessica Blake, Nate Connors, Dawn Davis, Meagan Hawkes, Amanda Good Hennessey, Art Hennessey, Matt Hillas, Doug Hodes, Nancy Hurlbut, Sonya Joyner, Lisa Miller-Gillespi, Dan O'Brien, Stephanie O'Neil, Sara Peterson, Floyd Richardson, Angela Rose, Adam T. Rosencrance, Evan Siegal, Irina Salimov, Bernice Sim, Murray Wheeler and Sarah Copeland Visser.

The Essayons Theatre Company is a collaborative of theatre artists that seeks to develop theatrical works combining talents from different artistic disciplines. The company has performed across the nation, and its members have gained recognition as actors, writers and directors.

Past Essayons' productions include: "Hell on Earth" (1999 - winner of the Cupie Doll Award at the Seattle International Fringe Festival), "Live Hostage Crisis!" (2000), "Radio Check 2330" (2000), "A Random Bit of Nonsense About Yul Brynner and Other Short Plays" (2002), "Steamship Authority" (2003), "Learn From the Self-Made Man" (2003), and "I Go Solo" (2003, IRNE Award nomination for Best New Play, Small Company).

For ticket information, contact the BCA Box Office at 617-426-2787.

-- OnStage Boston



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