Love in the Wars
Bard SummerScape at the Fisher Center, Annadale-on-the-Hudson
July 10- 20, 2014
Box office: 845-789 7900
Imagine the fields of Ilium, awash in mud and gore. Through the angry mist and beneath a burning sun, legendary heroes yell insults over the clash of iron as bone breaks and flesh is torn. Between the Argive camps and Troy’s great walls, men have lived and died for ten years because of a mythic beauty whose face launched a thousand ships. In this place there is no room for women unless it is to serve as a chalice for male lust. Even at home, women are of no consequence. This is a Man’s world: rational, orderly, controlled, traditional. In this world, one is mightier than all others: the son-of a god, mighty Achilles.
Now imagine that across this chess board rides a screaming, one-breasted, wild herd of horsewomen pounding vanity and virtue into the muck beneath their fierce mares’ hooves. They come to bring home men with whom they will breed before tossing them aside as unnecessary as orange peels. Before them all rides raven-haired Penthesilea, she-wolf; mother-bear; lioness.
In the midst of battle, they come face to face—Myrmidon Achilles, son of Thetis and Amazonian Penthesilea, Ares’ daughter.
The once expansive, dramatic world of war condenses into a moment so fraught with tension the air thickens. The atmosphere is so oppressive it squeezes the very breath out of your lungs. Sound echoes silently, pregnant with potential. Motion stops. Two worlds wait to see what will happen next.
Now imagine a bare stage upon which artisans have used their craft to turn wood, cloth, word, light and vibration into a play at which you will sit and watch what happens next.
Come see Love in the Wars at the Fisher Center during Bard’s SummerScape and experience what no one has experienced before: the premiere of the first English translation of Heinrich von Kleist’s 1808 play, Penthesilea, written by John Banville, directed by Ken Rus Schmoll with sets by Marsha Ginsberg, lights by Tyler Micoleau, costumes by Oana Botez and staring Birgit Huppoch and Chris Stack as Penthesilea and Achilles.
But mostly come to see how a production crew and actors not so different from your neighbors (though perhaps better looking) have taken a German play which Goethe said was unplayable and made it into something timeless and accessible to anyone who has every wanted to kill the one they love. It is a play about power, pride, and the degree to which love and hate war with each other to destroy. And, it is about how absurd and funny it is that people do such a silly thing while around them the world tries to go on about its business.
Though I expect it will be hard to not get swept up into the story, I hope you will take notice of how light, wood, cloth, voice and sound are used to suck you into the action. Consider how the tension of opposites—light/dark, loud/silent, large/small—are used to amplify the story. Realize that behind the 90 minutes with no interruption lies months and months of thought, research, construction and deconstruction. Everything you experience while in the theater has been taken into consideration so that you will feel as if you were there, on the fields before the walls of Troy, waiting to see what Penthesilea and Achilles might do. I’m sure that by doing so you will feel what I felt in my brief visit to Theater Two: the incarnation of something like thunder on a hot summer’s day.
And when the play is done, sing your praises to the actors, the designers, the laborers, the writers and to yourself for being willing to walk for just a little while among the muses of days long turned to dust and shadow.