Each fall, this series features a classical tragedy or comedy in the Getty Villa's dramatic Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater, an outdoor theater based on ancient prototypes.

Euripides'
Helen


Adapted by Nick Salamone
Directed by Jon Lawrence Rivera
A new production by Playwrights' Arena


Thursdays–Saturdays, September 6–September 29, 2012
Getty Villa, the Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater



 
Euripides, the most subversive of the great Greek dramatists, followed his Trojan Women just three years later by presenting an entirely alternative history of "Helen of Troy" in Helen (412 B.C.), a play now largely ignored and rarely performed.

In Helen, Euripides' heroine is no wanton seductress, but rather a pious, faithful wife and a hapless victim of Olympian plots who struggles to make the best of a very bad situation. By a trick of the gods, this Helen never travels to Troy at all, but is replaced by a phantom replica on the eve of her kidnapping by Paris. The real Queen Helen is magically transported by Hermes to the far off island of Pharos in a cloud for safekeeping, where she waits out the Trojan War in an ironic celibacy.

Helen picks up the story 17 years later, as the abandoned, middle-aged queen remains stranded on the island, oblivious to her infamy and ignorant of the war's outcome. As the play opens, the once-famous beauty wonders whether the gods, her husband, and the world have forgotten her forever. Needless to say, they have not, and Euripides' inventive fantasy of mistaken identities and impossible coincidences ensues.

Audiences and critics alike revel in this colorful production by director Jon Lawrence Rivera and Playwrights' Arena, set at the close of Hollywood's golden age.
"There are plenty of hearty laughs to be had in this contemporary version of a classic that asks us to relinquish our certainties and second-guess even our own senses."
Los Angeles Times
"This is a spectacularly one-of-a-kind evening of theater . . . an experience to remember."
Broadway World
"The production shows, once again, that the best, most varied, and riskiest theatre in America is taking place in Los Angeles these days."
Cultural Weekly
"Playwright Nick Salamone has reimagined Helen for a contemporary, movie-savvy audience, taking vast liberties with the text in order to grant it a late-20th century Hollywood setting. Thus, instead of a dusty old slab of classic theater, we get a visually splendid romp."
LA Weekly
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Read and see more about the play on our blog, The Iris, including video interviews with the creative team.

The Cast
 
Helen, queen of Sparta Rachel Sorsa
Menelaos, king of Sparta Maxwell Caulfield
Theoclymenus, ruler of Pharos Chil Kong
Theonoe, sister of Theoclymenus Natsuko Ohama
Hattie, slave to Theoclymenus and Theonoe Carlease Burke
Lady, chorus Melody Butiu
Cleo, chorus Arséne DeLay
Cherry, chorus Jayme Lake
Old Soldier, follower of Menelaos Robert Almodovar
Teucer, younger brother of the war hero Ajax Christopher Rivas
Musicians Brent Crayon, E.A., and David O
Understudies Anita Dashiell-Sparks,
Robert Mammana, and Leslie Stevens
 
The Company  
 
Adaptation Nick Salamone
Director Jon Lawrence Rivera
Producer Diane Levine
Composer and Musical Director David O
Dramaturge Mary Louise Hart
Casting Directors Russell Boast and Raul Staggs
Scenic Designer John H. Binkley
Lighting Designer R. Christopher Stokes
Sound Designer Bob Blackburn
Costume Designer Mylette Nora
Video Designer Adam Flemming
Hair and Make-up Artist Sarah Kathryn Chaney
Prop Master Ken Takemoto
Dialect Coach Luke Yankee
Fight Director Edgar Landa
Associate Costume Designer Byron Nora
Costume Assistants Wendell Carmichael and Taylor Moten
Wardrobe Crew Ellen L. Sandor
First Assistant Director Shaunessy Quinn
Second Assistant Director Daniel Segura
Assistant to the Producer Lorely Trinidad
Q-Lab Technician Jennifer Hill
Production Stage Manager Don Hill
Stage Manager Jaclyn Kalkhurst
Production Assistants Dean Hendricks, Micheal Mason,
and Clare Wernet

About the Artists

Nick Salamone (Playwright) is the author of ten full-length produced plays: Another House on Mercy Street, All Souls' Day, Riffs and Credos, Moscow, Red Hat and Tales, Whale Watchers, Hillary Agonistes, Gulls, Sea Change, and The Sonneteer. Salamone received the 2007 Playwrights' Arena Award for outstanding contribution to the Los Angeles theater community, two Beverly Press Maddy Awards for excellence in writing, an LA Weekly Award for adaptation, and three Garland Awards for Excellence in Southland Theater (one for adaptation and two for musical score). He was nominated for two LA Weekly Awards for playwriting and an Ovation Award for book and lyrics. His most recent work, The Sonneteer, was listed by the Los Angeles Times, LA Stage Times, and Entertainment Today as among the best new plays of 2011. For the production Moscow, Salamone received the Fringe First Award for new writing as well as the audience favorite award at the Edinburgh International Fringe Festival. He is an alumnus of Nautilus Music Theater workshop and graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Tufts University with a bachelor of arts in English and drama.

Jon Lawrence Rivera (Director) is the founding artistic director of Playwrights' Arena. A five-time Los Angeles Stage Alliance Ovation Award nominee, he and his productions have garnered over 100 local and international awards. Most recently, he has directed The Girl Most Likely To by Michael Premsrirat; Cages by Leonard Manzella; Unmerciful Good Fortune by Edwin Sanchez; bonded by Donald Jolly (2012 GLAAD Award nomination); Blood Wedding by Federico Garcia Lorca; Calligraphy by Velina Hasu Houston; Road to Saigon at East West Players; Jacques Brel at the Colony Theatre Company; and Oedipus el Rey by Luis Alfaro at the Getty Villa Theater Lab and at the Theatre @ Boston Court. Past collaborations with playwright Nick Salamone have included The Sonneteer (Los Angeles Times best play of 2011); Sea Change (2009 LA Weekly Award for best director); and Hillary Agonistes (2007 New York International Fringe Festival Award for best director).

Playwrights' Arena, under the leadership of artistic director Jon Lawrence Rivera, is dedicated to discovering, nurturing, and producing bold new works for the stage written exclusively by Los Angeles playwrights. It was founded in 1992 by Jon Lawrence Rivera and Steve Tyler. Playwrights' Arena develops new materials through several series of readings, workshops, and roundtable discussions. Local playwrights are encouraged to create original, adventurous, and daring materials to challenge the mind, touch the heart, and provoke the spirit.

Additional information about Playwrights' Arena can be found at www.playwrightsarena.org.

How to Get Here
The Getty Villa is located at 17985 Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, California, approximately 25 miles west of downtown Los Angeles. See Hours, Directions, Parking for directions and parking information.