Ted Hughes’ radical adaptation of ‘The Oresteia’ runs at HOME from 23 October to 14 November, Directed By Blanche McIntyre

HOME presents

The Oresteia

First performed in 458 BC, The Oresteia, the only surviving Ancient Greek trilogy in existence, comprises three of the most important plays of all time – Agamemnon, Choephori, and Eumenides.

In Agamemnon, Clytemnestra prepares for her husband to come home. Ten years ago, Agamemnon murdered their child to buy the gods’ support for a dubious war. Far off their son, Orestes, waits – if Agamemnon is murdered, Orestes must avenge him. Choephori picks up the story with Orestes’ return and dramatises the creation of a mental state that can kill. Stopping the cycle of violence is the subject of Eumenides. It will need a total reconfiguring of the universe, from the demons of the underworld to the gods themselves, and requires the invention of a new concept: justice.

Ted Hughes’ version of The Oresteia was performed for the first time at the National Theatre directed by Katie Mitchell. HOME distils the original into a stripped-back 100 minutes.

Hughes, Poet Laureate from 1984 until his death in 1998, turned the original text into a manageable and accessible piece of work, while retaining its blood, guts, power, and poetic intensity.

The action moves across time and space. Each cast member takes one role, swapping genders and ages through the plays: one Clytemnestra, one killer (Aegisthus/Orestes), one patriarch (Agamemnon/Electra/Apollo), and one truth- teller (Watchman/Cassandra/Nurse/Athena). With two chorus leaders, they move from gods to rulers to underworld characters of darkness, and all stops in- between.

McIntyre reprises her Seagull partnership with designer Laura Hopkins, and is joined by lighting designer Lee Curran, most recently seen at HOME with Hofesh Schechter’s Fragments and tHE bAD, and sound designer Emma Laxton.

The Oresteia is currently stirring audiences up and down the country. This will be the third production this year, after London shows at the Almeida and Shakespeare’s Globe, and the HOME production is the only one to place a local chorus at its centre.

Blanche McIntyre says: “The Oresteia marked the beginning of drama as we know it. A family locked in a cycle of bloodshed, the legacy of a brutal war, the first ever court case, the invention of justice, the clashing principles of kingship and the good of the people – The Oresteia has themes running through it which have formed the bedrock of so much drama during the past 2,500 years.

“The Oresteia is a great civic drama. It is about movement from government by family to the will of the people, and about the movement of humans from primeval darkness into light. It feels right to be doing this in Manchester, a great city with a long, noble, and continuing history of agitation for the greater good.

“This is why it is important for the production to centre around the voice of the citizens of Manchester. The people are the central driving force of each play, and our chorus form a key element of the production. And there is a broader contemporary significance. The story has parallels both in conflicts across the globe and in truth and reconciliation commissions.”

HOME’s Artistic Director: Theatre, Walter Meierjohann, is very pleased to bring one of the country’s leading young directors, Blanche McIntyre to HOME. “I have followed Blanche’s work over the last few years and I am very impressed by her in depth work with actors and her sense of invention,” he says “The Oresteia remains one of the key pieces of drama, and as a classicist, there is nobody more appropriate than Blanche to direct it. I am also thrilled that this production connects to Manchester involving 50 local voluntary performers. “

For more information and to book tickets, please Click Here.

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