A Night of Drama: Bacchae 2.1 Performed Under the Stars

By Aliya Merlih
Elm Staff Writer

Walking past the Casey Swim Center on Oct. 17 or 18 at midnight you may have seen something a little out of the ordinary. This was exactly Director and senior Patrick Derrickson’s goal in his production of “The Bacchae 2.1.”

Not only did Derrickson choose a unique time to hold his production, but he also decided to have the play outside by the Casey Swim Center. “The Bacchae” was originally written by Euripides and was a classic Greek tragedy, performed outside. Although “The Bacchae 2.1” is a revamped and modern version of the original, Derrickson wanted to maintain the original feeling of having the production outside. “The space where I am doing it actually fulfills a lot of the requirements that I needed,” he said. “It’s supposed to be outside, and there are these great pillars outside of the swim center that are emblematic of Greek cities, Greek architecture, which is contrasted by this grassy area and a hill, and I wanted the men to be in the civilized world.”

In the play, the character of Dionysus is a new god and represents everything uncivilized. The plot thickens as he attempts to visit King Penthesus’ grandfather. Derrickson said, “As king [he] wants to maintain society, so he is upset that his grandfather is going to see this new god. They capture and jail [Dionysus], and he breaks out.”

The civilized women are forgetting their duties to worship Dionysus, and this angers Pentheus because he believes the society is falling apart. Dionysus convinces Pentheus to disguise himself as a woman and see what is happening in the mountains for himself. The women discover he is actually a man and kill him.

Derrickson found “The Bacchae 2.1” following a suggestion from Drama Department Chair and Associate Professor Dr. Michele Volansky. “Originally [I] wanted to do a deconstructed physical theatre rendition of ‘Suddenly, Last Summer’ by Tennessee Williams,” but he discovered that it would break the copyright.

After Volansky’s suggestion, he discovered that “The Bacchae 2.1” would be perfect. Derrickson always loved Greek tragedies, and he wanted a play that he could mess with. The fact that he could cut and add parts particularly appealed to him.

Most senior thesis productions are held at 7:30 p.m., but Derrickson chose a show time of noon and midnight. “There’s a lot of liminal identities in the play.  [For example] Tiresias is mythologically a woman who turned into a man who turned into a woman who turned into a man,” said Derrickson. “He is between both worlds.”

This theme of transition is shown with the timing of the productions. “There is an implied transitional phase in the confusion of not knowing which day you are in during midnight,” he said.

Derrickson has loved his experience directing. “The collective problem solving in directing is really exciting. I am really interested in conceptual art, and I think that directing in a lot of ways is conceptual art,” he said. “You’re taking something that’s unformed and creating a concept on how it’s supposed to be enacted.”

After graduating in December, he plans to move Washington DC, where he spent two summers interning. He will apply for a fellowship in March.

Photo courtesy of clipartpanda.com


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