Antaeus, one of my favorite small venues and L.A.’s award-winning classical theater ensemble, best known for finely-tuned, fully partner-cast productions of the classics, has announced an exciting and diverse three-play season for 2014.
The new year will bring two modern classics, Top Girls by Caryl Churchill, directed by Cameron Watson, and Wedding Band: A Love/Hate Story in Black and White by Alice Childress, directed by Gregg T. Daniel. Also on the slate is the world premiere of The Curse of Oedipus, a one-evening history of Greece’s Royal House of Thebes created by Kenneth Cavander for the company to perform under the direction of Casey Stangl.
“We hope to use the coming season to investigate enduring themes that are also very current,” said Antaeus co-artistic directors Bill Brochtrup, Rob Nagle and John Sloan. The 23-year-old company is currently in its third year operating with a triumvirate artistic structure. “This troika was always intended to be an experiment, to see if a theater company could survive with an artistic system of checks and balances,” explains Nagle. “So far, our struggles to put our three minds together have resulted in a wonderful collaboration, and we continue to make decisions together with that hope in mind.”
The season kicks off on March 13 with Caryl Churchill’s Obie Award-winning comedy, Top Girls, directed by Cameron Watson. Politics get personal in the go-getting 1980s of Margaret Thatcher's England when Marlene, who has just been made managing director of the Top Girls Employment Agency, discovers that life above the glass ceiling is not all it's cracked up to be. An insightful commentary on bourgeois feminism, this bold and ingenious work offers one of theater's most honest portraits of what it means to be a woman in the modern world. Shoulder-pads may no longer be in fashion, but Churchill’s masterpiece continues to resonate. (March 13-May 4, with previews beginning March 6)
In June, Casey Stangl directs the world premiere of The Curse of Oedipus by Kenneth Cavander. The ill-fated history of the Royal House of Thebes – Oedipus, the king; his wife, Jocasta; her brother, Creon; and all of their respective cursed offspring – preoccupied the great writers of ancient Greece and Rome, who recounted their fortunes over and over again in many versions. Playwright Kenneth Cavander, and director Casey Stangl, with the actors of the Antaeus Company, have distilled the legends of three generations into a single evening of drama focused on the figure of Oedipus. (June 5-July 27, with previews beginning May 29)
October brings Wedding Band: A Love/Hate Story in Black and White. Alice Childress’ masterpiece, set in 1918 South Carolina, is the story of two people in love who yearn to be together as husband and wife, but are kept apart by society's mores and laws prohibiting interracial marriage. As impactful today as in its 1966 debut, Wedding Band, still paradoxically timely and timeless, moves and inspires while confronting the harsh reality of racism, patriarchy and bigotry. Gregg T. Daniel directs. (Oct. 9-Nov. 30, with previews beginning Oct. 2)
All three plays were previously given readings as part of Antaeus’ ongoing ClassicsFest series. The Curse of Oedipus was additionally presented in a workshop version at The Getty Villa.
Antaeus projects are initiated by members of the company, and go through an in-depth development process. This usually involves intensive exploration of the chosen text by actors sitting around the big library table. Some rehearsals may follow, then perhaps a reading on the stage for an invited audience (sometimes accompanied by a potluck) or a more formal public reading as part of an Antaeus ClassicsFest series. Eventually, the project might develop into a full production.
The Antaeus Company exists to create a family of artists and audiences and is dedicated to exploring stories with enduring themes. Taking their company name from the Titan who gained strength by touching the Earth, Antaeus members — many of whom are familiar to film and television audiences — gain creative strength by returning to the wellspring of their craft: live theater performances of great classical plays. Unique among 99-seat theater companies in L.A., Antaeus is known for “partner casting.” In all Antaeus productions, two equally talented actors collaborate on every role, working together throughout the rehearsal process and enriching the creative experience. Audiences, who rarely see an understudy, frequently return to see the same play in the hands of an equally excellent but very different set of actors.
The company’s current production, the L.A. premiere of a new adaptation of Pierre Corneille’s The Liar by David Ives, opens this Thursday, Oct. 10 and continues through Dec. 1.
For more information about The Antaeus Company and the 2014 Season, call 818-506-5436 or visit online at www.antaeus.org.