At first glance it might strike some as a curious turn for a company whose ethos has always been a passion for the classics. And that hasn’t changed! But on closer inspection you’ll find that new work has always been a vital part of Antaeus’ DNA. From new translations of Spanish Golden Age masters by Company Founder Dakin Matthews to original musical pieces like American Tales (based on stories by Twain and Melville) to World Premieres of Jeffrey Hatcher’s adaptation of Balzac’s Cousin Bette and Kenneth Cavander’s fresh look at the Theban plays, The Curse of Oedipus, we’ve been exploring new takes on classical material.
Several years ago we were approached by writer Ed Napier who proposed setting up a weekly session for mid-career playwrights and Antaeus actors to meet and explore scenes brought in by the writers. Based on a similar program at The Lark in New York, the Antaeus Playwrights Lab was born.
Led by Lab Director Emily Chase and a three-person Playwrights Panel, the Lab has been thriving. The happy marriage between actors versed in the classics and talented writers birthed several wonderful 10 Minute Play Festivals at our former space. And last year our new home saw the first edition of LAB RESULTS, a weekend long festival. Six new plays developed in our Lab had stellar readings to sold out crowds. LAB RESULTS will be back in January with readings of six new plays by Sean Abley, Matt Doherty, Jeanette Farr, Jennifer Rowland, Ashley Rose Wellman, and Marlow Wyatt in an expanded two weekend format. You don’t want to miss it.
With full productions of Stephanie Alison Walker’s The Abuelas and Jennifer Maisel’s Eight Nights running on our stage right now we’ve seen just how seamlessly new works with bold, timeless themes fit into Antaeus’ mission and vision. Oregon Shakespeare Festival continues to inspire us with their combination of classics and new works. And we’ve seen first hand how true it is that actors steeped in Shakespeare, Chekhov, and Shaw know how to use the tools they’ve developed to make new work absolutely sing. On a personal note I know that the classical techniques of rhetoric and language that I’ve learned from Armin Shimerman and Elizabeth Swain (co-directors of our upcoming Measure for Measure) inform every play, every reading, and even every television audition I work on!
Classical works and new plays fit together beautifully at Antaeus. They reflect, contrast, and compliment each other. And they challenge our artists and audiences as we explore the great enduring themes of humanity. That’s what Antaeus is all about.