Getty Villa, J. Paul Getty Museum

An Interview with the Creative Team behind Euripides’ “Helen” at the Getty Villa

“It’s a whole lot of fun to roll up to rehearse at the Getty Villa on a daily basis,” says Maxwell Caulfield, the actor headlining the Getty Villa’s outdoor theater production of Euripides’ Helen, presented by Playwrights’ Arena. In this behind-the-scenes interview, Maxwell joins fellow actor Rachel Sorsa (Helen), director Jon Lawrence Rivera, and Nick Salamone, author of the adaptation, to discuss developing this fresh new version of Euripides’ rarely performed “non-tragedy,” which presents an alternative history of Helen of Troy.

If you’re expecting a typical ancient Greek play, think again. In the video above, Rachel describes its very contemporary appeal and says, “It’s got something for everyone: it’s got the romance, it’s got the madcap comedy, pathos, history, beautiful girls, half-naked men, [and] a beautiful score.”

Nick describes his new adaptation, which is set at the end of Hollywood’s Golden Age, as nevertheless faithful to the essence of Euripides’ classical text: “Every plot point, every given, every character, the funniest jokes, were all in the original play…we just gave it a framework so [an audience] could enter into it fresh.”

To his knowledge there has never been an American adaptation of Helen, Nick reveals as he further discusses the adaptation in this second video. Classified as neither comedy nor tragedy, the play, Nick says, comes closer in tone to modern melodrama. In Helen, he says, Euripides was “combining forms and breaking the mold.”

Performances start September 6 and run until September 29. You can order tickets and find more information about the production here.

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  1. Posted August 31, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    I wish I could attend. After ‘Helen of Troy’ and ‘Women of Troy’, any planning to bring Euripides’ Hippolutos? So much better than Racine’s Phaedra.

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      Olympian Census #4: Aphrodite

      Get the stats on your favorite (and not-so-favorite) gods and goddesses on view at the Getty Center.

      Roman name: Venus

      Employment: Goddess of Love and Beauty

      Place of residence: Mount Olympus

      Parents: Born out of sea foam formed when Uranus’s castrated genitals were thrown into the ocean

      Marital status: Married to Hephaestus, the God of Blacksmiths, but had many lovers, both immortal and mortal

      Offspring: Aeneas, Cupid, Eros, Harmonia, Hermaphroditos, and more

      Symbol: Dove, swan, and roses

      Special talent: Being beautiful and sexy could never have been easier for this Greek goddess

      Highlights reel:

      • Zeus knew she was trouble when she walked in (Sorry, Taylor Swift) to Mount Olympus for the first time. So Zeus married Aphrodite to his son Hephaestus (Vulcan), forming the perfect “Beauty and the Beast” couple.
      • When Aphrodite and Persephone, the queen of the underworld, both fell in love with the beautiful mortal boy Adonis, Zeus gave Adonis the choice to live with one goddess for 1/3 of the year and the other for 2/3. Adonis chose to live with Aphrodite longer, only to die young.
      • Aphrodite offered Helen, the most beautiful mortal woman, to Paris, a Trojan prince, to win the Golden Apple from him over Hera and Athena. She just conveniently forgot the fact that Helen was already married. Oops. Hello, Trojan War!

      Olympian Census is a 12-part series profiling gods in art at the Getty Center.


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