Culver City Public Theatre Updates Classic Sophocles Tragedy, ‘Oedipus Rex’
By Ken Kamlet
from Culver City,CA
Culver City, California—A horrific murder and suffering from pestilence devastates his empire. But the anguish gets ever worse as the title character in "Oedipus Rex" must unravel disturbing mysteries and face haunting family secrets.
Now in its 5th season of bringing free, professional, classical summer theatre to Los Angeles-area audiences, Culver City Public Theatre (CCPT) is currently enjoying the success of a well-received, audience-pleasing run of Shakespeare’s comedy "All’s Well That Ends Well", but will take a decidedly darker turn by presenting Sophocles’ chilling drama, "Oedipus Rex". Performances are scheduled for the weekends of August 2-3 and 9-10 at 2pm in beautiful Dr. Paul Carlson Memorial Park.
Sophocles is universally regarded as one of the great playwrights of the Golden Age and his story of Oedipus the King is considered his masterpiece. Admired as an innovator by his contemporaries, CCPT will bring this shocking tale of a tormented king even closer to the consciousness of modern audiences, in part, by utilizing a contemporary translation of the original Sophocles text.
Director Alexander Wells explains, "By exploring the deep spiritualities of the play, by placing it in a mythic setting of Northern California in the late 1960s and by adding chorus music I hope to make the psychological reality of the story and the morality of the ancient Greeks more relevant to us."
Wells returns for his fourth consecutive season, having previously mounted CCPT’s memorable productions of Plautus' "The Braggart Soldier", Henry Fielding's "Tom Thumb" and last season’s Italian Renaissance classic comedy, "The Deceived".
"'Oedipus' was selected because we have a very loyal group of fans of Greek theatre. Greek plays are the origin of theatre, and yet no one in L.A. dares to take them on. We do very well with our presentations of the Greek Dramas, and there is a contingent out there that seeks it," explained CCPT Vice President Kyle Nudo.
Oedipus may have thought he put the worst behind him. After solving the riddle of the Sphinx and ascending to the throne, he weds Iokaste. She is the widow of the late King Laios who was murdered while desperately trying to flee from the fate of a disquieting prophecy. But the haunting by similar prophecies, the consequences of another pestilence in his kingdom and the secrets of an abandoned baby may ultimately doom this archetypal tragic hero.
The cast will include a number of guest actors. Chris Shore takes on the challenging title role having most recently been seen as David in the UCLA production of "Company" under the distinguished direction of Tony winner John Rubinstein. In addition, he has performed such wide-ranging roles as Conrad Birdie in "Bye Bye Birdie" (Peninsula Center Stage) and Orsino in "Twelfth Night" (Shady Shakespeare Company). Iokaste will be portrayed by recent New York City transplant Lorraine Pope. Her numerous stage credits include "The Three Sisters" and "A Midsummer Night’s Dream". CCPT company members in the cast include Greg Ellery and Tom Hyer.
The outdoor stage setting will be designed by Susan D. Wells, costumes are by RoseMarie Fabiano and original music by L.A.-based Cesar Benito.
CCPT will round out its 2003 season with decidedly lighter fare. In Moličre’s "Scapin (The Scams of Scapin)" a brilliant and mischievous servant opens a can of slapstick on his masters. Directed by Douglas Green. Hilarity, suitable for audiences of all ages, will be enjoyed in performances August 16-17 and 23-24th.
Dr. Paul Carlson Memorial Park is located at the corner of Motor Avenue and Braddock Drive in historic Culver City, CA. All performances are held during the summer on Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. The public is invited to bring their lawn chairs and blankets to attend the productions which are intended for young and adult audiences alike.
Culver City Public Theatre is sponsored by the Culver City Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services and by generous grants from the City of Culver City and The Cultural Affairs Commission. Additional funding comes from donations from local businesses and patrons.
For general information call (310) 712-5482 or visit CCPT's official website at www.ccpt.org.