March 4-5 & 11-12, 8:00 p.m., March 6, 7:00 p.m., March 12, 2:00 p.m.
Cabot House Junior Common Room
Directed by Meryl H. Federman ’11
Produced by Wendy Y. X. Chen ’12, Arthur D. Kaynor ’12 & Felice S. Ford ’11
“Oedipus Rex,” Sophocles’ tragic tale of a king who unknowingly murders his father and sleeps with his mother, was written almost two and a half millennia ago and features a story very much ingrained in the cultural canon. Nonetheless, the director of the Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club’s new production of the play is confident that it remains relevant to our times, in ways that are often forgotten when the piece is staged today. “The play contains very personal stuff,” says director Meryl H. Federman ’11, “with common ideas that have sort of been lost over time.” Her goal with this production is to “take it out of the tight-buttoned classical sensibility, so it isn’t a toga and sandal rendition of the play” and modern audiences can more easily connect with the characters.
It may seem ironic that a production so intent on removing a “tight-buttoned classical sensibility,” is also a collaboration with the Harvard Classics Club. Luckily, the Classics Club appears in line with director Federman’s modern interpretation. Felice S. Ford ’11, a translator and producer for the production as well as a member of the Classics Club, says that “the Classical Club’s philosophy with this work is to provide for a modern audience as authentic a view of the classical play that we are working on as possible. We are trying to bring out a lot of the aspects crucial to understanding what Greek tragedy was and how it was performed.”
Eli E. Kahn ’13, who plays Oedipus, praises the work of the Classical Club translators. “There’s a lot of modern language. It’s less oppressively formal,” he says. Another aspect of the production’s attempt to modernize the piece involves updating the visual aesthetic. “The director is going for ... a frontier, American post-revolutionary type of feel,” says Ford. “There’s a sort of wildness to it,” adds Federman.
The goal of these changes is to make the play’s central theme of fate and free will more relatable. “Just because these stores are about gods and heroes, [it doesn’t mean you] have to be a god or hero to have this story be accessible to you. The themes are deeply personal to us all,” says Federman.