Southern Californians have a unique opportunity this fall to experience a theatrical event that bears great significance on our time—and Downey is the proud host. The Downey Civic Theatre will be the temporary home to The Leonidas Loizides Theatrical Group presentation of the Oresteia, and they’ve chosen our little diamond-in-the-rough theatre to present an abridged version of this timeless classic trilogy by Aeschylus. While the production is in the Greek language with English subtitles, and sponsored by The American Hellenic Council, the evening will be meaningful to far more than those within the Greek community. The vision of director and producer Leonidas Loizides is to “hand over the torch of ancient Greek culture” to the rest of us, a task that bears more significance today than ever before.
Complete mythologies were represented in ancient Greece in trilogies, and the Oresteia is the only remaining trilogy we have today. The story follows the end of the curse on the house of Atreus—which began with the brutal murder and cannibalist consumption of his nephews, and continued through to his son Agamemnon, who sacrificed his own daughter to launch his fleet to war, and who was later killed by his wife Clytemnestra in the first play of the trilogy, Agamemnon. Their daughter and son, Electra and Orestes (for whom the play is named), are followed through the other two plays as they seek revenge on their mother for their father’s death. The story ends with the establishment of justice in a court of law triumphing over personal revenge.
Excepting the Oedipus plays, the Oresteia has been arguably the most popular and influential Greek tragedy in the western world. Its influence began with Seneca in ancient Rome, continued through to Renaissance Europe, and from there echoed its themes across the ages and straight into our modern-day story-telling. So this special evening will not be simply an event for the Greek community. They are truly passing the rest of us a mighty torch with this production.
During this time, when our nation is facing rapid social change, political polarization, wars, and political unrest around the globe, Loizides offers us these tragedies that “are full of messages about justice, love, peace, from 2,500 years ago.” They remind us that there is nothing new under the sun, and the struggles of humanity in ancient Greece still make their way into our lives today. Be sure not to miss this incredible opportunity, one night only, at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 13 at the Downey Civic Theatre. For more information and to order tickets, call (323) 651-3507, or go to www.americanhellenic.org, or buy your tickets at the Downey Theatre box office the night of the performance.
As for me, there is only one thing that would cause me to miss this event—the birth of my second child, due any day now. So in case you don’t see me there, and you hear later that the Wahlquists are proud to welcome little baby Electra into the world… you’ll get it.
ed. note: You can also read the excellent article about the show found in The Downey Patriot.