Behind the Scenes, Getty Villa, J. Paul Getty Museum

Video: Olympia Dukakis and Carey Perloff on the Making of “Elektra”

“I will not participate in that patriarchy!” That was Olympia Dukakis’s reaction, almost 25 years ago, when director Carey Perloff approached her about starring as Clytemnestra in Ezra Pound’s translation of Elektra. Today’s production—with a text by acclaimed female  playwright Timberlake Wertenbaker—stars Dukakis as the Chorus, a role designed for her “fierce” talent by Wertenbaker.

In this video, Dukakis and Perloff discuss their long working relationship, the dramatic tensions in the Chorus’s role, Wertenbaker’s innovative translation, and the question the play asks about rebellion: Is it a noble quest for justice, or a personal indulgence? (at 5:08).

The video wraps (at 7:45) with an electrifying discussion of a great irony of Greek drama: that this male-dominated form is so rich in towering, demanding, exhilarating roles for women.

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