The Getty Villa
Ghost Road performs Orestes at a past Villa Theater Lab

An exciting forum for the reinterpretation of classical theater, the Villa Theater Lab series features new translations of Greek and Roman plays as well as contemporary works inspired by ancient literature.

All performances take place in the Auditorium at the Getty Villa. Parking is $10 after 5:00 p.m.

Next in the series

 

All Our Tragic

Date: Saturday and Sunday,
November 8 and 9, 2014
Time: 11 a.m.–5 p.m.
Location: Getty Villa, Auditorium
Admission: Tickets $25 per day, $45 for November 8 and 9, 2014. Tickets available beginning Tuesday, September 23 at 9 a.m.

All Our Tragic, by Chicago's award-winning company The Hypocrites, is a unique 12-hour theatrical adaptation that combines the 32 surviving Greek tragedies into a single epic narrative. Performed over two six-hour installments, the performance creates a modern festival of Dionysus. Adapted and directed by Sean Graney.

Appropriate for ages 13 and up due to violence and sexual situations.


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Most recently in the series


Troubadour Theater Company presents ABBAMEMNON
April 18–20, 2014
Featuring the music of the seminal Swedish band, ABBA, this 90 minute romp employed the theatrical conventions and devices of the Greeks, the Commedia del Arte, and Brecht. Physical and musical, along with a strong emotional core, the Troubies brought the noise, the funk, and the dysfunctional family vibe to life in what is considered by many to be the masterwork of all Greek tragedies.

Four Larks Presents Orpheus
March 14–16, 2014
The Orphic katabasis resonates across cultures and centuries, inspiring poets, painters, and musicians with the potential of art to shift the course of history. This bold new adaptation weaves electrifying visual and physical theater with a hypnotizing live score.

Orpheus follows the golden-voiced hero on his journey through the underworld to rescue his lost love, Eurydice. He sings his way across the River Styx, past the three-headed hellhound, and into the House of the Dead. As he descends into the heart of Hades, Orpheus dares to defy the fates, convincing Persephone to return Eurydice. But will he be forced to accept her mortality once they reach the light of day?

Not Man Apart Physical Theatre Ensemble Presents Lysistrata Unbound
by Eduardo Machado, Inspired by Aristophanes' Lysistrata

February 8–10, 2013
Sibling-actors Olympia and Apollo Dukakis lead the cast of an ingenious new script in progress by award-winning playwright Eduardo Machado. This newly imagined "prequel" to Aristophanes' Lysistrata, directed by John Farmanesh-Bocca, tells of an aristocratic Athenian matron who is crushed by fateful events and gradually transformed into the most celebrated peace activist of the ancient world.

Hugh Lupton and Helen Chadwick Perform Hymns to Aphrodite
May 18–20, 2012
Hugh Lupton is one of Britain's greatest living storytellers, carrying forward the ancient bardic tradition. Helen Chadwick is a celebrated composer and singer. Together they present a new work in progress, conjuring tales sacred and profane of the Greek and Roman gods of love.

Like the Getty Villa exhibition Aphrodite and the Gods of Love, this performance of Hymns to Aphrodite explores in story and song the many dimensions of the ancient goddess. Lupton and Chadwick's retelling of her complex mythology encompasses the legend of her miraculous birth, the intrigues involving her many immortal lovers (Zeus, Ares, Poseidon, Dionysus, Adonis, and husband Hephaestus, among others), and the turbulent lives of her children (Eros, Hermaphroditos, Priapus, Rhode, Deimos and Phobos).

Of a performance by Hugh Lupton at London's Barbican Centre, a Times of London reviewer wrote, "I saw banquets and voyages, armies and oceans, battling heroes and ravening gods—all conjured out of thin air by a voice. Film is often thought to be a threat to literature. But the images that billowed and faded in that darkened auditorium were quite different from those that unspool across a screen. I could put my hands in front of my face and the pictures would not vanish. They were inside me. They belonged to me. They were part of the history of the whole of human life."

Rogue Artists Ensemble Presents Songs of Bilitis
March 23–25, 2012
In 1894, the reported discovery of a large cache of exquisite poetry by an ancient Greek courtesan electrified the world of Classical studies. The author was Bilitis, described as an intimate friend and contemporary of the poet Sappho. So sensuous and moving were these poems that they were immediately hailed as classics of ancient erotic literature and began to appear across Europe in sensationally illustrated "private editions." More than a decade later, the poems were unmasked as an elaborate literary hoax, fabricated by an obscure and impoverished French novelist, Pierre Louys—a comrade of the author Andre Gide and composer Claude Debussy, among others. How a flamboyantly heterosexual Parisian avant-gardist came to successfully impersonate a Sapphic Greek poet is the subject of this new work by the acclaimed Los Angeles mask and puppet troupe Rogue Artists Ensemble.

Behind the Scenes with Rogue Artists Ensemble

See the performers in mask and hear Sean Cawelti of the Rogue Artists Ensemble discuss their approach to theater in this video. Plus: a Flickr set of masks and puppets being created for Songs of Bilitis.



Critical Mass Performance Group Presents An Alcestis Project
February 17–19, 2012
The latest work in progress by this ambitious experimental-theater ensemble explored ancient myths of the faithful wife who descends to the realm of the dead. Under the direction of Nancy Keystone, the play takes its name from the Greek heroine Alcestis, a queen and mother who volunteers to die in place of her husband. Drawing on a long history of interpretation by dramatists, poets, and composers of opera, Keystone and Critical Mass Performance Group presented the first draft of their mythic research.

Troubadour Theater Company Presents For the Birds,
Adapted from the Play by Aristophanes

June 9–12, 2011
The Troubies, as the Troubadour Theater Company is known, are renowned for their deliriously satiric adaptations of theatrical and literary classics set to pop musical scores. Set in the mythical CloudCuckooLand and floating halfway between heaven and earth, the Troubies' newest work is based on Aristophanes' feathery utopian comedy.

Not Man Apart Physical Theatre Ensemble Presents
The Madness of Hercules by Seneca

May 20–22, 2011
Considered one of the finest tragedies of the Roman philosopher and playwright Seneca, Hercules Furens portrays one of the most bitter and grotesque legends of this half-mortal son of Zeus―Hercules' maddened slaughter of his own innocent wife and children. Seneca's play asks, how does a man survive his own unforgivable crimes?

Poor Dog Group Presents Satyr Atlas
February 4 and 5, 2011
Half-man and half-horse, the wild and badly behaved Satyrs were legendary companions of Dionysus, the ancient Greek god of wine and theater. In their latest work in progress, Poor Dog Group, rising stars of L.A.'s experimental-theater scene, immersed themselves in ancient satyr drama, imagery, and lore to reinvent the term satyr play.

Go behind the scenes as the group rehearses the work and hear from director Jesse Bonnell on the creative process on the Iris.

The Center for New Performance at CalArts and the CalArts School of Theater: Piedra de Sol (Sunstone)
May 14–16, 2010
Conceived, adapted and staged by Mexican director Maria Morett, this multimedia work for the stage is inspired by the surrealist love poem of the same name by the late Nobel laureate Octavio Paz. Considered one of the poet's greatest works, Piedra de Sol (Sunstone) is a circular poem based on the circular calendar of the Aztecs (or sun stone,) and overflows with images both modern and historical. This original staging is performed in an aural tapestry of English, Spanish and Nahuatl.

Big Dance Theater: Euripides' Alkestis
February 19–21, 2010
Two acclaimed creative forces—renowned translator Anne Carson and the daring, experimental Big Dance Theater—joined in the creation of a new movement-theater version of Alkestis. Euripides' genre-defying play, in which Herakles wrestles Death for the soul of an ideal woman, is one of the playwright's strangest and most beautiful works.

The SITI Company: Antigone
May 15–17, 2009
Director Anne Bogart and the members of her New York City-based ensemble brought to the Villa the first public presentations of their latest project, an adaptation of Sophocles' Antigone by Irish dramaturge and translator Jocelyn Clarke.

Troubadour Theater Company: Oedipus: The King, Mama!
April 17–19, 2009
Los Angeles-based Troubadour Theater Company, a freewheeling, no-holds-barred, commedia dell'arte-flavored ensemble of actors, musicians, and comedians, tackled the ancient Greek tragedy.

Ghost Road: Orestes
February 20–22, 2009
Orestes is the third part of Home Siege Home, a trilogy of new plays based on The Oresteia and devised by Ghost Road, one of California's most ambitious experimental multimedia theater ensembles.


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.