Ben Whishaw leads Greek season at Almeida Theatre

Ben Whishaw in Bakkhai

Ben Whishaw, Lia Williams and Kate Fleetwood are set to star in three plays that make up the Almeida Greeks at the Islington theatre this summer.

Almeida artistic director Rupert Goold introduces Almeida Greeks: “We are delighted to announce our Greek festival this summer at the Almeida: three major productions of Greek tragedy in our theatre from May to November.

“Inspired in form and spirit by the Greek Dionysia, we will also present a festival of other work in the theatre and off site, including responses, talks, readings and panels.

“At the Almeida we strive to create theatre that asks questions of its audiences, of who they are and the world they live in, work that is alive and resonant.

“When we came to the writers of Ancient Greece we wanted to be true to their plays – staging them in full complexity, presenting their formal iconoclasm, their humour, musicality, politics, violence and unswerving drama.

“These writers took society’s old myths and made them new: changed them, exploded them, set them loose as contemporary stories that spoke to their city.

“At the same time they posed big, provocative, uncomfortable questions; ones which two thousand years later, we still struggle to answer.

“We want to follow their example. We are taking the Greeks out of the Attic”.

Lia Williams in ORESTEIA

The season starts in May with Lia Williams in Robert Icke’s adaptation of Aeschylus’ Oresteia.

Orestes’ parents are at war. A family drama spanning several decades, a huge, moving, bloody saga, Aeschylus’ greatest and final play asks whether justice can ever be done.

In July there is a new version of Euripides’ Bakkhai. Adapted by Anne Carson it stars Ben Whishaw and will be directed by James Macdonald.

Whishaw makes his Almeida debut as Dionysos, alongside Almeida alumnus Bertie Carvel. Using three actors and a chorus, the new production will echo the original Ancient Greek performance model.

Euripides’ electrifying tragedy is a struggle to the death between freedom and restraint, the rational and the irrational, man and god.

The chorus will include Ameira Darwish, Eugenia Georgieva, Kaisa Hammarlund, Hazel Holder, Melanie La Barrie, Elinor Lawless, Catherine May, Louise Mills and Belinda Sykes.

Kate Fleetwood in Medea

The season ends with Medea, one of world drama’s most infamous characters brought to ferocious life in this new production by Rupert Goold and controversial feminist writer Rachel Cusk. Kate Fleetwood makes her Almeida debut in the title role.

Testing the limits of revenge and liberty, Euripides’ seminal play cuts to the heart of gender politics and asks what it means to be a woman and a wife.

Tickets for the new productions will go on sale to Almeida Members on Tuesday and to the public on March 24.

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