Director’s Note: The Bacchae

“The universality of this text is its biggest allure to performers and viewers alike.”

Most people have heard of Euripides’ ‘Bacchae’. That’s not an attempt on my part to hype up my own
production or elevate what I’m doing – it’s simply stating a fact.

Knowing that you’re interacting with a piece that countless others have done before is a really potent factor in how any director or actor tackles a text like this. I’ve really tried, in the way that I’ve approached directing and organising the piece, to give my cast and crew the autonomy to put their own stamp on this titan of classical literature. The universality of this text is its biggest allure to performers and viewers alike. Whilst seeming, superficially, to depict a specific piece of mythology, the play really manages to talk about so many things in an incredibly elevated yet accessible way.

Though it is universal in its themes and topics, I truly feel that this is the perfect place and time for us all to look towards Euripides’ ‘Bacchae’ and realize how relevant and real the issues covered in it still are today. I’m amazed more people don’t look at this story and think, ‘My god, we’ve really not changed as a society.’ For me, personally, this play speaks to all of us about respect and equality and fairness. It shows us a society where the men oppress the women, then juxtaposes that image with the stark reality of women viewing themselves as the superior gender, and doesn’t make that look too peachy either. It talks about religious extremism, it talks about racism, it talks about prejudice in all of its many forms and doesn’t pull a single punch. This show depicts, for all, a society where people simply don’t respect each other and dramatically shows the graphic and horrific consequences of the way people treat those that they don’t accept or understand. Not too unlike the world we’re all living in right now. It doesn’t give you answers, it doesn’t bring you comfort, it simply highlights how vicious and horrible the human race can be, and I believe that’s what makes this text one of the most beautiful and poetic pieces of tragedy in existence.

This piece has been, undoubtedly, a hard one for me to direct. There are so many threads and themes within the text that one simply cannot bring them all to the fore. Each member of the cast and crew of this production has seen something very different within the text and I’ve tried to afford them the opportunity to imbue this production with as many nuances and visual thematic links as possible.

I completely respect the fact that everyone reads this piece differently and that everyone will take something different from viewing it but hope that, by allowing each member of the team to bring their unique approaches to and opinions about the text to this production, I succeed in encouraging everyone to view the piece in their own individual way. Hopefully, if you’re looking for something from this play then you’ll find it in our production. Euripides wrote a glorious piece of classical theatre for us all, and I simply want to share his tragic depiction of a family and society, torn apart by those that simply refuse to accept and respect each other.

I would like to say that I want my audience to have fun whilst seeing this play but if they have fun watching this production then I’m afraid they’re watching it wrong! If you want to come and see this show I recommend bringing tissues with you – the cast manage to make me well up and I’ve seen them do the piece countless times over! We’ve also got a special nod to the god of theatre in our collaboration with the St Chad’s College Wine Cellar (so if you want to grab yourself a glass whilst its on sale before/after the show, and during the interval then make sure to have your ID handy)!

Performances will take place at 19:30 from 24th-26th November in the Cassidy Quad at St Chad’s College. Tickets are available to purchase on the door and can be reserved by messaging

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