Zwei Stücke – Two Languages – Ein Ort – One Evening
Open-Air-Summer-Theatre in the Parktheater at Großer Garten! Joining forces for a fascinating coproduction, English-speaking Eclectic Theatre and the German theatre group Spielbrett put on stage two thrillingly differing versions of Elektra. The gory play addresses issues such as revenge and retribution, justice and guilt, and order and truth, thus dealing with ever-recurring questions of humankind. So, the play remains highly topical even today. By presenting the same subject matter in two different manners, with two distinct approaches and utterly different directing styles in two languages on one evening, both Eclectic and Spielbrett catered for a pleasurable theatre experience. The Parktheater at the Großer Garten, built in 1719 as baroque amphitheatre, was meant to be the venue for this event.
Eclectic Theatre presented Sophocles’ classical, mythological tragedy, in English, of course: A curse going back several generations lies upon the House of Atreus, the rulers of Mycenae, whose ancestor Tantalus offended the Gods. Generation after generation has slaughtered one another, and there appears to be no end to it.
On his return from the Trojan War, Agamemnon was murdered by his wife Clytemnestra and her lover Aegisthus. His son Orestes was smuggled out of Mycenae to live in exile until he grows old enough to avenge his father’s death. And Orestes’ sister Electra is waiting for his return.
The story of Elektra is one of revenge taken to an extreme. Sophocles’ version of the myth deals with fundamental questions. When does justice become distorted through personal motives? Where does justice end if motivated by hatred? And if justice demands revenge, does that not lead to renewed slaughter? And if these are the laws of the Gods, what can humanity do?
Spielbrett, on the other hand, performed Elektra in a modern German translation: Elektra – our world’s drama. Once a year, the “festival of truth” is celebrated. It’s the icing on the cake of the dictatorship of prosperity established by the murdering pragmatist Aegisthus. The feast first! Who would object to this?! Chrysothemis, the stepdaughter, savvied: Liberty as acceptance of necessities guarantees a modest private happiness. Only her sister Electra challenges this idea with her absolute standards of justice and freedom, with her radical contempt for these vital lies! How shall the avenger from abroad, brother Orestes, deal with it? Can he offer the democratic alternative? Is there one? Without bloodshed? Somewhere in the past lies our future, but how to cope with the present? No answers, just inklings…
Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten, 11&12/06/2011
The bloody quest for liberty by Wieland Schwanebeck
“These two productions of Elektra in two languages make for a stimulating evening. Over the years Eclectic Theatre has made a name for itself with productions in English well worth seeing, bringing together theatre enthusiasts from many countries. Given the multicultural background of the group, the formal rigour of director Michael Halstead’s approach to Sophocles’ play – including historical costumes and masks for the chorus – is impressive. […] Helenie Mende gives the fury [Elektra] a human face. […] With Robert Lewetzky’s appearance as Aegisthus near the end, Eclectic Theatre succeeds in creating […] a powerful play of revenge, bringing a magical touch of amphitheatre atmosphere to the Großer Garten. […] After the interval, the Spielbrett group presents a contemporary Elektra adaption by Hungarian Lásló Gyurkó and thus renders an even more lively theatrical interpretation. […] Even Elektra’s part merges into the ensemble play, leaving all actors room for powerfully acted scenes. Apart from the incestuously charged dispute between Elektra (Mandy Menzel, who not only acts powerfully but also provided laconic song lyrics of Brechtian quality) and the upright Orestes (Erik Kaubitzsch), here, the modern version of the antique chorus stands out: The fun-seeking yes-men declaim their lines sometimes lustfully, sometimes naively and in an opportunist manner, sometimes chaotically, thus proving satire to be the backbone of the play. In the end, these clowns do not come to any lasting conclusion, merely that ‘the last minutes could have been spend more stupidly.’ Clearly an understatement, in face of the theatre event just seen.”
Freie Amateurtheaterzeitung FATZ, Issue 2/2011
“An exciting […] evening in a beautiful amphitheatre which lends itself perfectly as venue for this […] classic.”
Click here for the photo gallery.
See a short TV report about Elektra, broadcast on Dresden Fernsehen, June 9, 2011.