Theatre: “Orestes 2.0” by Charles Mee Presents Edgy Update of Classic Characters

orestes 20Guest Director Brings Shocking Edge to the CSU Stage
~ By Mitch Wills

Bringing high quality, affordable live theatre to the Front Range, the theatre program at Colorado State University presents Charles Mee’s jaw-dropping twist on classic characters in Orestes 2.0. Performances are nightly Thursdays through Sundays, running Oct. 10, 11, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 7:30 p.m. in the Studio Theatre at the University Center of the Arts, 1400 Remington Street.

Tickets are $8 for CSU students and $18 for adults. This show is not appropriate for youth under 18 due to strong adult content and themes. Tickets are available at the University Center for the Arts (UCA) Ticket Office in the UCA Griffin Lobby, by phone at (970) 491-ARTS (2787), or online at Advance purchase is recommended to avoid at-the-door fees.

Free Ticket Offers: CSU students get in free on Ticket Thursdays: Oct. 10 and 17. Now, thanks to a grant from the City of Fort Collins Fort Fund, members of the public get in free on Ticket Sundays: Oct. 13 and 20. Space is limited and tickets are available on a first come, first served basis at the Ticket Office at (970) 491-ARTS (2787).

Orestes 2.0 is an edgy and dark re-visioning of the original works of Greek playwright Euripides. This fever-dream of a play weaves snippets from Vogue Magazine, Soap Opera Digest, interviews with porn star Mai Lin, and works by William Burroughs and Apollinaire, with plays of Euripides as it tells the story of Orestes and Electra, who murdered their mother to avenge the murder of their father at her hands.

The show presents the Greek tragedy through the lens of modern pop culture with a jaw-dropping smash-up of texts from the contemporary world: essays, newspapers, National Enquirer, Reader’s Digest, talk shows, news reports, Rush Limbaugh, comic books, TV Guide, online manifestos and blogs, legal transcripts, and more.

The show features guest professional director Sanaz Ghajarrahimi as part of the theatre program’s second annual Guest Artist Initiative, sponsored in part by the City of Fort Collins Fort Fund. She notes that the production has an extremely dark countenance, and plans to fully embrace that aspect.

“The story itself feels timeless,” Ghajarrahimi said. “It’s a vicious cycle of violence in a family as a parallel to the cycle of violence in an empire.”

While the play has an ominous edge, Ghajarrahimi plans to emphasize the lighter, sometimes humorous facet of the play as well.

“We want to find the human story in the shocking material,” Ghajarrahimi said. “We want people to leave laughing a little bit and also to take something thought provoking from the play.”

Paired with Ghajarrahimi’s spirited direction, the Guest Artist Initiative also features special guest projection designer Alex Koch, who specializes in the integration of projections in live theatre. Koch’s design will couple with the intimate essence of the Studio Theatre to create an immersive environment that will keep audience members on the edge of their seats. There will be five projectors displaying images around the actors on stage to enhance the surreal, nightmarish and circular motion of the show, which will provide the audience with an up close and personal theatre experience.

“It is an extraordinary production of an extraordinary play,” Ghajarrahimi said. “It promises to have the same effect on the contemporary audience as it did to the Greek audiences 2,500 years ago.”

Opening Night Artist Talk-Back with the cast: Thursday, Oct. 10 immediately following the performance.

Orestes 2.0 will be the edgy production theatre fans will enjoy. With dark, humorous, and altogether entertaining material, it promises to be a piece of theatre no one will soon forget.

Critical Acclaim for Orestes 2.0 by Charles Mee

"Filtering his modern-day vision through Greek mythology, Mee presents an otherworldly tableau that 'Orestes 2.0' takes place in modern America, or at least an America seen through a David Lynch lens. ... Mee's dark, offbeat humor has the Greek chorus of nurses turn lounge act by breaking into Leon Russell’s 'Superstar,' or Electra-as-chanteuse singing 'Angel Eyes' amid the carnage. Brilliant."  VARIETY

"Mr. Mee's dark vision of society -- here America as collapsed Greece -- is no brighter than in his other plays, but his humor is sharper. And his contemporary retelling of the story threads hallucinations of well-known murders and the bizarre psychological defenses presented by some killers. The play is startling, yes, but it's also a 'romp' through the legends of the House of Atreus. Mee is an important playwright in the American theatre, and 'Orestes 2.0' is an important play, a play that masterfully a contemporary context that recreates what it might have been like for Greek audiences to experience it the first time around, 2,500 years ago." NEW YORK TIMES

Sanaz GhajarrahimiAbout Sanaz Ghajarrahimi

Sanaz Ghajarrahimi is an Iranian-American director, writer and choreographer. She is a Drama League Director's Project Alum where she is currently in residence as part of their New Directors/New Works program. This summer she directed at the OBIE Award-winning Ice Factory Festival in addition to developing a new musical with playwright Kristine Huruna Lee (set to premiere at La MaMa Club in Spring 2014). Before that she directed NUCLEAR LOVE AFFAIR, which performed to sold out houses in Krakow and Prague before running at HERE in NYC last season. She has developed work with George Brant, Gabriel Dean, Jon Marans, Noor Theatre, Fresh Ground Pepper, SharkMother Arts Collective, and others. Select directing credits: RED WEDNESDAY (Ice Factory Festival); DRUNKFISH OCEANRANT (Prelude Festival, Dixon Place); KILL TO EAT by Caridad Svich (Hangar Theatre); HAMLET (Grace Exhibition Space); MELANCHOLY PLAY by Sarah Ruhl (Robert Moss Theater); HOUSE (Brooklyn Lyceum); ORPHEUS AND THE PLASTIC MASQUERADE (Galapagos Art Space); THE ELEPHANT MAN by Bernard Pomerance (Wings Theatre); and ROMEO AND JULIET (Access Theater).

AlexKochHeadShot2013About Alex Koch

Projection and New Media Designer Alex Koch, founder of Brooklyn, N.Y. based design group Imaginary Media Artists, a company specializing in the creation and integration of film, animation, and live video in theater. Member artists design collaboratively, utilize complex resources to create world-class theater, teach workshops throughout the country, develop and share tools and resources for the entire media design community. Member artists work professionally as directors, designers, filmmakers, visual artists and coders. Read more.

The University Center for the Arts at Colorado State University provides an enriched venue in which the study and practice of Art, Dance, Music and Theatre are nurtured and sustained by building the skills and knowledge needed by future generations of arts professionals to become contributors to the essential vitality of our culture and society. During the 2013-2014 season, the UCA celebrates its fifth anniversary and features several celebratory events that highlight connecting our campus and community with impactful arts.