“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.