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September 20, 2018

Roaming Choruses In ‘The Bacchae’ Seek To Engage Audience


OSWEGO — Chorus members will dance through the aisles and gesture to the audience as the SUNY Oswego theater season opens, premiering an adaptation of Euripides’ classic tragedy “The Bacchae” Oct. 23 and 24 and Oct. 29 to 31.

SUNY Oswego will premiere an adaptation of "The Bacchae," based on a classic Greek tragedy by Euripides, on Oct. 23 and 24 and Oct. 29 to 31 in Hewitt Union ballroom. Among other cast members, the play features (from left) Alyssa Scruton as the Agave/Ghosts chorus leader, Max Fehr (Cadmus), Nicholas Cocks (Dionysus) and Ana Richardson as Raving Ones chorus leader.

SUNY Oswego will premiere an adaptation of “The Bacchae,” based on a classic Greek tragedy by Euripides, on Oct. 23 and 24 and Oct. 29 to 31 in Hewitt Union ballroom. Among other cast members, the play features (from left) Alyssa Scruton as the Agave/Ghosts chorus leader, Max Fehr (Cadmus), Nicholas Cocks (Dionysus) and Ana Richardson as Raving Ones chorus leader.

Performances of the audience-engaging play will take place in Hewitt Union ballroom at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 23, 24, 29 and 30, with a matinee finale at 2 p.m. Oct. 31.

The play will preview at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 22.

“The cast is incredibly excited that they each get to be a part of something brand new like this,” said production stage manager Caren Morris, a sophomore theater major. “Many other academic institutions just do what has already been done over and over again. I think it’s so incredible that we get to experiment with this brand new production and see how it works for us.”

Matthew Gasda, a poet and Lehigh University graduate student, wrote the adaptation on commission from a collaborator of his, new SUNY Oswego theater faculty member and New York City-based director Christopher Carter Sanderson.

The Bacchae are worshippers of the Greek god Dionysus (played by Nicholas Cocks) and form one of two choruses in the play.

The choruses include student actors Alyssa Scruton, Emma Johnson, Remington, Robert O’Leary, Sam Keeney, Elsa Nieder, Ana Richardson, Libbie Wansink, Emily Stott, Alexandra Matsu and Kelci Schlierf.

They will performing hypnotic and flowing dances from within the audience.

They will also sing and interact with audience members throughout the performance, gesturing strenuously toward them while performing.

Artistic impact

Morris, who works to maintain both safety and the artistic impact of the play, explained, “I personally love audience interaction; it’s one of my favorite things whether I’m going to a show or involved in a show in any way … It will make the audience interested in a different kind of way than they expect to be during an academic play.”

Audience engagement is Sanderson’s primary goal, and Morris believes theatergoers will look at this production as a memorable experience.

The choruses create a feeling of audience involvement in the dialogue, drawing them into its suggestions about the morality of pleasure seeking.

The play “really engages the mind, and the audience will likely be so absorbed in the actions of the performers around them that they will end up saying, ‘This is interesting, let me think about this for a moment,'” Morris said. “The audience could be deeply considering how the characters relate to each other and how their actions relate to our society, for a long time after seeing the play.”

Morris said the SUNY Oswego theater department “is never short on opportunities and every single person involved, whether faculty or student, is incredibly supportive of one another and that allows us all to create these amazing productions and projects that make us feel like complete artists.”

Other student cast members include Khari Constantine (Pentheus), Max Fehr (Camdus), Wyatt Gilbert (Tiresias), Michael Calobrisi (Acteon), Matthew McCabe (Heimon) and Iury Esquarcio (Lykos).

Besides Morris, student members of the crew include assistant director Spencer Ventresca, assistant stage manager Megan Twamley, sound designer Deanna Jones, costume designer Emma Scholl, scenic charge Maegan Kenny, assistant dramaturg Ariana Zink and fight captain Emma Johnson.

Faculty and staff crew members, besides Sanderson, include producer and theater department chair Kathleen Macey, production manager/technical director Sean Culligan, stage management mentor Cole Sostak, sound design mentor Greg Brewster, scenic/lighting designer Ola Kraszpulska, costume shop supervisor Judy McCabe, dramaturg Jessica Hester and box office manager Kelly Cullinan.

“The Bacchae” includes adult content.

Tickets for this SUNY Oswego theater-in-the-round production, all general admission, are $15 ($7 for SUNY Oswego students), available at all college box offices, online at tickets.oswego.edu or by calling 315-312-2141.

The preview is $5 a ticket. Parking is included in the price of a ticket.

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