Thursday, December 3, 2009

Statesman Article on Dionysus in 69


Fleshing out innovative '60s theater

With help from 'Dionysus in 69' director, Rude Mechanicals tackle free-form production.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

For 'Dionysus in 69,' actors let the audience be part of the production. Richard Schechner, the original director of the 1960s production, will give a pre-show talk on Friday.

Time was when a stage with no boundary between audience and actors — and a play that changed each night according to how the audience might react — seemed all so terribly new.

It was in 1968 when theater pioneer Richard Schechner led the collective known as The Performance Group in a radical new version of the Greek tragedy, 'The Bacchae,' which Schechner called 'Dionysus in 69.' In a converted garage in New York City's Soho, Schechner and his troupe explored the limits of audience participation, kept the focus of the action always variable and flexible and even moved the show out to the street at times. Actors shed their clothes and spent most of the play naked. They switched characters and invited the audience to dance. In response, audiences staged spontaneous sit-ins or other group actions.

'Dionysus in 69' gave a 1960s spin to Euripides' tale of the struggle — to the death — between self-control and collective passion.

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