The old and the new come together to explore timeless concepts and ideas in “Orestes 2.0,” opening Thursday at 7:30 p.m. on the Studio Theatre stage in the University Center of the Arts.
The Greek tragedy of Orestes may be at its center, but much of the play is unmistakably modern and, of course, there is also a bit of everything in between. This range of content opened the doors for endless creative potential.
“Orestes 2.0 is definitely a challenging show,” said Alex Koch, projections designer for the show. “The thing is, almost anything is possible, from what images we could use and create to what they could mean and how they might be incorporated into the show.”
Koch was invited to work on the show as a guest artist. He is based out of New York, as is guest director Sanaz Ghajarrahmi.
Their mutual connection to New York led to similarities in their approaches to the play and its creative possibilities and challenges. Both leaned toward what Koch described as a downtown theatre aesthetic.
The projections that Koch has designed add a unique element to the show and cover a wide range of images including snapshots of something you might see on TV today, to medieval castles and scenery, to green screen shots of actors.
“Ideas for the images came from things I think of when reading the script, but aren’t necessarily in the script.” Koch said. “They are ideas that are going on in addition to what’s happening on stage.”
Which is not to say that the on-stage action doesn’t have its share of colorful ideas, visuals and characters.
“I really enjoy this bit where I’m talking to Orestes and after we finish our conversation, the scene all of a sudden shifts into a diner and we actually just eat a burger on stage,” said Chris Olson, who plays Orestes’ friend Pylades. “Then the scene shifts again and I become much more intense than I’ve ever been on stage and convince Orestes to run away and to kill in order to do so.”
The play tumbles through emotions as well as time periods, juxtaposing and often marrying them to create a distinctive theatre experience.
One way in which the old becomes married to the new is through lines from characters like Tapemouth Man, a soldier whose war injuries have put him in a wheelchair, played by Lilly Warren.
The format and phrasing of many of Warren’s monologues hark back to ancient greek tragedies, but the content of these monologues is often somewhat modern with references to guns and other contemporary technology.
Tickets for the show are free for CSU students on Thursdays and are $8 on other nights. The show is not appropriate for anyone under 18, and tickets are $18 for adults.
“The show deals with a lot of great ideas and issues, and is very visually beautiful.” Warren said. “I hope people will be able to see the beauty in it.”
Entertainment Writer Katie Salka can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.