News and Events
Pepperdine Theatre Department Performs The Persians
The Greek playwright Aeschylus dramatized the Battles of Salamis in his 472 BC play The Persians, just eight years after the Greeks defeated the Persians in 480 BC. The Pepperdine Fine Arts Division brings the story back to life 2500 years later on the stage of the Helen E. Lindhurst Theatre in Malibu. The play runs from Tuesday-Saturday, October 6-10, at 7:30 pm, with a matinee performance on Saturday, Oct. 10, at 2 p.m.
Bradley Griffin directs the Persians cast
Performed by a talented cast of students and directed by theatre professor Bradley Griffin, The Persians is the first Pepperdine production of a Greek play in five years. It tells the story of tragic Persian king, Xerxes, performed by Drake Schaneberg, who is defeated in an ill-fated war with the Greeks. After the citizens of Persia learn the fate of their army, the community grapples with the concept of defeat, and their queen Atossa (played by Erika Varela) must prepare to welcome home her son, the disgraced king. Adrian Catchings portrays the messenger who brings the news of defeat to the people of Persia, and Giovanni Porta rounds out the central characters as the ghost of Atossa's dead husband, Darius.
The events portrayed were still contemporary when Aeschylus authored the play and it is the oldest surviving play in the history of theatre. It has been translated numerous times over the years, but Griffin was moved by the 2004 translation by Ellen McLaughlin.
"It was McLaughlin's crystalline poetry that first attracted me to The Persians," says Griffin. "Audiences sometimes have a view of Greek tragedy that it is stuffy and remote, but this translation is very accessible in terms of getting to know who the characters are."
Griffin's staging of the play contains traditional elements of Greek theatre - in particular the body of (usually) anonymous characters that comprise the Greek Chorus. The Persians features seven actors on stage throughout the entire play who comment on the events and transition the action, performed by Dante Carr, Isabela Comerford, Jamye Grant, Jesse Perez, Caleb Powell, Krista Taylor, and Ryan Wadler.
Composer N. Lincoln Hanks
Another traditional element of Greek theatre that Griffin is channeling is the tradition of continuous music being played throughout. The musical accompaniment to the tale of war, pride, and loss has been composed specially for this production by Pepperdine associate music professor, N. Lincoln Hanks.
Hanks will perform the score with three student percussionists, having researched the setting and culture in which The Persians takes place. "We don't really know what music sounded like in 480 BC," he confides. "We have clues, but no real information. So I've immersed myself in Middle Eastern music, and particularly percussion, which is what the score is."
"Hanks has been an incredible collaborator," says Griffin. "I've never had the opportunity to work with a composer on a score. We had a similar vision and as he was planning the music, it was unfolding just as I was seeing it as well. He and the three percussionists have given above and beyond."
Pepperdine's presentation of the play is part of the University's Mary Pickford-Stotsenberg Performances Series. No late seating is allowed. The audience is invited to join a forum for discussion right after the Wednesday performance.
For more information, contact the Center for the Arts (CFA) Box Office at (310) 506-4522, or visit the CFA Web site.