Blind Ambition

Three colleges commission their troupes to stage an epic trilogy

What could be more challenging to stage in modern times than classical Greek tragedy? How about staging the most famous of Greek trilogies, Sophocles’ “The Oedipus Cycle,” with the plays produced by three different college theatre departments, each blind to the others’ approach, and with only a stage set and lighting plot to unite them?

“It has been artistically energizing,” says David Kaye, chair of theatre and dance at the University of New Hampshire where performances of
“Oedipus at Colonus,” the second play of the trilogy, will be staged on Feb. 22, 23 and 26. The story cycle actually begins with “Oedipus Rex,” performed by Plymouth State University on Feb. 24, while “Antigone” will be performed by the thespians of Keene State College on Feb. 25. All shows take place at UNH.

“I think audiences may be surprised by how many ways you can interpret Greek theatre and choruses,” says Kaye. “I can almost guarantee you these three will look nothing alike.” He recalls a similar effort 10 years before when the productions varied in styles ranging from a battle scene from 1960s Vietnam to a Marilyn Manson concert.

Kaye says the staging three different visions on the same set will be a “logistical nightmare,” but he’s quite optimistic about the results. Still, as the Greeks knew, the twists of Fate are not ours to control, but to bravely endure. And if somehow tragedy should befall the effort, he can always quote the playwright: “And if you find I’ve lied, from this day on call the prophet blind.”
— Sophocles, “Oedipus Rex”