The Bacchae

As translated by Paul Schmidt. Directed by Kevin Khulke 
with Music by 
Cynthia Hopkins.

The classic Euripedes play of Dionysis and his adoring Bacchae ladies who sing, dance and revel in helping him revenge the death of his mother, Semele. A cautionary play in which the all-female chorus uses song and dance to convey their feelings about God, religious teachings and narrative commentary, I chose to visually represent the moral contradictions within the text by incorporating diverse movement qualities. Some of the bacchanal dances pound and pulsate, some drone and warn, while others tickle and seduce the audience. Because the story magnifies religious fanaticism, we sought inspiration in many venues. We examined everything from turn of the century snake dancing and evangelical Christian rituals to Helter Skelter, the fantastic Vincent Bugliosi account of Charles Manson and the Family. I studied the type of woman who killed for Manson and her confused interpretations of love, violence and God. I recognized and utilized the Manson women´s calm physical stature, which hides powerful anger, simmering just below the surface.

At the top of Act 1, The Bacchae say they come from the heart of Asia; therefore, in their travels to Greece, they would have adopted an eclectic mixture of dance styles. For the first production of The Bacchae at Harvard’s A.R.T, We looked at dances from India, Indonesia, and Africa. For the re-staging of The Bacchae at N.Y.U, I incorporated research conducted in Greece at the ruins of the many Dionysian Theatres that are still standing. I decided to broaden the dances to fulfill the epic quality the play must have had when it was originally performed.