Add this to the collection of absolutely unforgettable experiences. A dream I didn’t know I had came true after our ensemble got to perform Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound in a 2400 year-old Odeon theatre in Messene, Greece for the Ancient Messene Festival. Before being welcomed by a packed theatre and the sight of the mountain of Aphrodite in the background, I will particularly cherish the moments leading up to the performance: walking barefeet through grassy mountain meadows with white flowers everywhere, then down the steps feeling like a gladiator about to enter the arena.. definitely a very different experience than the type of theatrical entrance I’m accustomed to. Once on stage, we were welcomed by an amazing energy – fresh air, unbelievable acoustics and the bright April sun descended on our bare bodies as we started telling this ancient but very resonant story of Prometheus and his divine companions.
I had been passionate about this play upon first reading it, so the opportunity to play Prometheus was something I took with great responsibility and gratitude. After extensive dramaturgical research and exhaustive physical training, we had built a show that was constantly re-inventive, utilizing sticks and our bodies and voices to an extent I hadn’t deemed possible before. There is a moment in the play where I was brought high into the auditorium, only to look down and share with the audience how Prometheus has essentially created humanity itself by stealing the holy fire from Olympus. It’s the type of performance that doesn’t really work in a rehearsal space; it only starts to ‘click’ with actual audience interaction.
After multiple great lunches and an unexpectedly warm aftermath (we were treated like kings and celebrities by the local youth) we got to do the show again in the town centre’s open theatre. Here, I was particularly touched by the buzz it generated in the village – I remember seeing many more audience members by the end than we had started out performing for. Even the law enforcement agents took a break to see this story unfold about the greatest thief of them all.
Let me tell you, the Greeks had it figured out.