The Getty Villa

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



Date: Friday, April 5, 2024 at 7:00 p.m.; Saturday, April 6, 2024 at 3:00 p.m.; Sunday, April 7, 2024 at 3:00 p.m.
Location: Villa Auditorium
Admission: Tickets: FREE
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In 342 BC in the wilds of northern Greece, the greatest scientific mind to grace the ancient world collides with the most formidable conqueror history will ever know. A battle of wits unfolds between Aristotle, a radical Athenian philosopher, and a highly precocious, teenaged Alexander the Great, raising the question of whom, exactly, is teaching whom?

Written and directed by Alex Lyras.

Recently in the Series

The House of Baluyot: A Filipino Oresteia
November 18–November 19, 2023
On Imperial Beach in San Diego, a traumatized and houseless man, Estoy, fights to justify his reasons for killing his mother, Temay, a Filipino American nurse. Filled with anguish, Estoy recalls the inevitable events that led up to the murder. This freely adapted version of Aeschylus's Oresteia, written and directed by Guelan Varela-Luarca and Chay Yew, is an epic saga of power, displacement, and crime in an immigrant Filipino family in California.

Medea Refracted
April 29–April 30, 2023
At the city's edge, Medea, the nurse, and the women of her community refract violent histories. Each woman battles an event from her past, an action done or done to her. As they grapple with the weight of these actions, they gesture toward healing. This is a ritual. Through movement, text, and music, we explore the question: Can these women re-enter society in a healthy manner, and can their re-entry be welcomed?

Letters from the Black Sea
November 12–November 13, 2022
Ovid is the famed poet of love in Rome—with more than a passing resemblance to Marvin Gaye—and no stranger to wielding fame and influence. But he's sideswiped by the news that Augustus Caesar has exiled him to the furthest reaches of the Empire. His journey is long and dangerous, and his arrival is totally without ballyhoo. What did he do to deserve exile, and how can he make it right? More to the point, why did he get cancelled? Will he ever get back home? And what will happen to his work? A play dedicated to the exiles of the world, past and present, and to the eternal flame of their hopes of returning.

Cassandra, an Agony
April 30–May 1, 2022
Cassandra shows up as a side character in numerous Greek texts, but never as the central figure. Drawing on the works of Aeschylus, Euripides, Lycophron, Quintus Smyrnaeus, and Tryphiodorus, New York's Sinking Ship Productions weaves a wholly original take on her story. Using contemporary language and dynamic physical performance, the piece asks the questions: How do we think about the future? How do we act?

After Iphigenia
November 12–14, 2021
Ignited by Euripides' Iphigenia plays, the acclaimed Critical Mass Performance Group presents a kaleidoscopic meditation on the theme of sacrifice. This work-in-progress mines the mysterious story of Iphigenia–a young girl sacrificed by her father, Agamemnon–in the context of our era's personal and communal moment of calamity, loss, and transcendence.

Cowboy Elektra
January 24–26, 2020
Encounter a dusty crossroads where California history and Greek tragedy collide. Set in a saloon in 1869, Elektra's investigation of her father's death leads to a tragic revenge plot against her mother. This modern, feminist tale explores cycles of violence and control, and features original songs, a mostly female ensemble, vintage puppetry, and multimedia. The Rogue Artists Ensemble debuts a visual, emotional collage that asks how much can we truly control our fate. By award-winning playwright Meghan Brown, directed by Sean Cawelti with songs by Z. Lupetin.

November 16–17, 2019
The epic showdown between Perseus and Medusa comes to life as a musical fantasy told in Deaf West Theatre's signature style of singing and signing. The young, reluctant—and deaf—hero Perseus embarks on a perilous quest to slay the snake-haired Medusa. But this particular diva is more than meets the eye—if you dare read her lips. Medusa: The Musical features witty storytelling by playwright William Nedved, an expressive score by composer Kentaro Kameyama (the Project Runway winner also providing cutting-edge costumes) and innovative staging from frequent Deaf West collaborator and Disney+ Encore director Coy Middlebrook.

The Oedipus/Antigone Project
March 8–10, 2019
Choreographer Lionel Popkin's new evening-length premiere, The Oedipus/Antigone Project, takes its impetus from two of Sophocles' best known plays, Oedipus Rex and Oedipus at Colonus; the journey that Oedipus and Antigone take from Thebes to Colonus as they struggle to protect each other within a civic code that confounds them. Popkin blends unexpected humor and resonant physicality to craft worlds that, according to The Washington Post, have "a flair for originality that periodically has you realizing that you are smiling to yourself in the dark," and approaches dance-making in a way that The New York Times calls, "as farcical as it is dead serious." His multimedia performance works have been called "a zenith of corporeal possibilities" by The Los Angeles Times and "by turns comical, creepy, and uncanny" by The New Yorker.

The Madness of Love Mixtape
April 27–29, 2018
Two brothers access the world and their place in it with seemingly opposite approaches: heart vs. logic. In this production by the Q Brothers, inspired by Plato's Phaedrus, life's big questions are debated in the form of a hip-hop mixtape. Perhaps by bridging the two brothers' respective musical styles they can also bridge their world views, redefine some terms in the process, and see eye-to-eye in this current climate that seems obsessed with picking sides.

The Suppliant Women
November 17–19, 2017
Aeschylus' The Suppliant Women is one of the oldest extant dramas from ancient Greece and possesses striking contemporary relevance. After Aegyptus usurps Danaos' throne, the 50 sons of Aegyptus seek to possess the 50 daughters of Danaos by forced marriage. Danaos and his daughters flee to Argos for sanctuary, with the Egyptians in hot pursuit.

Homeric Hymns
April 21–23, 2017
The Homeric Hymns are a collection of songs from the seventh and sixth centuries BC, reflecting the earliest stories about the Greek gods. Award-winning Four Larks returns to the Getty Villa with a chorus of actors, musicians, and dancers to perform original compositions from these ancient verses.

February 17–19, 2017
Loosely based on Aristophanes's The Frogs, Sapo takes place in the mid-1970s Latin music scene. It's a slithery world of mischief, deception, and slippery hippy lily pads where anything goes. Adapted and performed by Culture Clash.

November 19–20, 2016
Inspired by the the myth of the Minotaur, Asterion explores the life of one man who has seen the dark side of his nature and fights to regain his humanity. This visceral, physical, and poetic retelling is conceived by Katharine Noon, developed by the Ghost Road Company, and reflects the ensemble's recent work with renowned Polish theatre company, Teatr ZAR.

Griot Theatre of the West Valley presents The Archer from Malis
April 15–17, 2016
In this bold reimagining of Sophocles's Philoctetes, set in a Hunger Games-inspired dystopia and employing non-traditional casting, Odysseus orders young Neoptolema, daughter of Achilles, to trick Philoctetes into joining the Greeks to assure their victory of the Trojan War.

Wilderness/Tilted Field present The Antigone Project
February 19–21, 2016
An intimate physical-theater duo imagines unspoken parts of the iconic Antigone story and examines the unique qualities of the sibling bond. An up-close and human exploration of the heroine and the brother she buries, this original work pulls from current events, the Wild West, ancient Greece, and our own childhood living rooms for a fresh and personal look at the legacy of Oedipus, offering insight into how the themes in this story live in our culture, both privately and publicly, today.

Theatre Movement Bazaar presents SUBLIMINAL
November 20–22, 2015
Theatre Movement Bazaar's new performance work—merging humor, dance, song, and video—takes place on a submarine deep in the subarctic and is inspired by the ancient legend of Cassandra, the Trojan princess who was granted the gift of prophecy and the curse of never being believed.

Latino Theater Company present La Olla—Plautus's The Pot of Gold
March 27–29, 2015
The Latino Theater Company deploys its unique style of imagery, music, and movement—inspired by the noir films of the golden age of Mexican Cinema—for this adaptation of ancient Roman playwright Plautus's comedy The Pot of Gold. Crime, greed, ambition, and mistrust drive the characters into a state of confusion and misinterpreted motives, with hilarious results.

Automata Arts present Tungsten (artery) A Modern Retelling of Persephone
February 20–22, 2015
This multidisciplinary puppet play with video and live performance centers on Cora, a contemporary Persephone whose annual return to the "upper air" has been the catalyst for spring. But her role, and the cycle of the seasons, are now in question. Directed and designed by Janie Geiser. Written by Erik Ehn.

The Hypocrites present All Our Tragic
November 8–9, 2014
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.

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.

Villa Theater Lab Aristotle/Alexander Program