CULTURE

‘First time in Athens, and the beginning of a long love affair’

Members of the renowned Washington Shakespeare Theater met the press yesterday at the Hilton Hotel, where American Ambassador Thomas Miller welcomed them on behalf of his embassy’s cultural section and as honorary secretary of the Athens ACS American-Hellenic Arts Center of Halandri. «The Oedipus Plays» combine the three works in Sophocles’ Theban Cycle, but in chronological order rather than the order they were written. Director Michael Kahn decided to set the production in Africa in an attempt to get the audience to see the story with a fresh eye, «by removing some of the expectations of what they’re going to see.» He noted that the issues raised – of violence, how to make a society, how to deal with the inexplicable, and the fact that mankind seems to repeat its mistakes – are not resolved in the play. «We’re grateful that these questions are raised; and if they’re raised in a play, they may be raised elsewhere.» Kahn said he was struck by the question of «how to create a society that is merciful, humane and inclusive but still orderly. I’m also interested in Oedipus’ process of self-discovery. I’m very moved by the fact that Oedipus forgives himself. But the strongest force in the play is love.» Avery Brooks, who plays Oedipus, described the opportunity to perform in Athens as «a singular honor. I can’t tell you how thrilling it is to be here. It’s my first time in Athens and it’s the beginning of a long love affair.» Refusing to reveal just how long the play lasts, Kahn simply said: «It’s longer than you want it to be, but it won’t seem so long when you see it.» And there’s every reason to believe that his talented cast will make the audience forget the stone seats of Herod Atticus Theater.