Getty Villa announces Euripides Helen Theater Production

The Getty Villa presents an alternative history of Helen of Troy in Euripides rarely performed play Helen, on Thursday, Fridays, Saturdays
September 6-29, 2012, a new production by Los Angeles-based Playwrights’ Arena, directed by artistic director Jon Lawrence Rivera. This new adaptation by playwright Nick Salamone of Euripides’ surprising twist on the legend of Helen is the seventh annual outdoor theater production in the Getty Villa’s Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater.

In this version of her story, written just three years after his Trojan Women, Euripides’ Helen is no wanton seductress, but rather a faithful wife and innocent victim of Olympian plots. By a trick of the gods, this Helen never travels to Troy at all, but is replaced by a phantom double before she can be kidnapped by the Trojan prince Paris. Magically transported by Hermes to Egypt for safekeeping, the real Queen Helen waits out the Trojan War in an ironic celibacy, far from the battle.

Euripides’ play picks up Helen’s story seventeen years later, as the now middle-aged queen—stranded on the banks of the Nile, oblivious of her infamy and ignorant of the War’s outcome—wonders whether the gods, the world, and above all her husband have forgotten her forever. As the plot unfolds, an irreverent fantasy ensues, filled with mistaken identities, daredevil escapes, and the inevitable “deus ex machina.”

“Largely overlooked and rarely performed, Euripides’ story of Helen makes you rethink the most vilified woman in Greek drama,” says Jon Lawrence Rivera, the founding artistic director of Playwrights’ Arena, which is dedicated to discovering, nurturing and producing bold new works for the stage written exclusively by Los Angeles playwrights. This production of Euripides’ Helen at the Getty Villa is the centerpiece of Playwrights’ Arena’s 20th anniversary season.

“The premiere of a new adaptation of Euripides’ Helen is the perfect way to follow last year’s presentation of Trojan Women at the Getty Villa,” says Claire Lyons, acting senior curator of antiquities at the J. Paul Getty Museum. “In Trojan Women, Euripides portrays Helen of Troy as a villain and cynical manipulator. In Helen, written just a few years later, the playwright reinvented her as a witty, delightful, and remarkably resourceful heroine.”

Performances of Euripides’ Helen will be held Thursday through Saturday, September 6 through 29, 2012 at 8:00 p.m., with previews from August 30 through September 1. Tickets are $42 ($38 for students and seniors, $25 for preview performances). On sale today (July 2), tickets are available by calling 310-440-7300 or online at getty.edu.

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