Chorus: A classic Greek tragedy re-worked for a millennial audience by hip young team.
What is the cost of a woman's success when it comes at the expense of her family? Agamemnon is about to find out.
Featuring a creative team that boasts some of Sydney's best and brightest emerging talent, CHORUS by Ang Collins (Blueberry Play) will have its World Premiere at the Old Fitz Theatre on 28 August.
Directed by Clemence Williams (Unfinished Works) and produced by Bontom (Chamber Pot Opera), CHORUS takes the age-old myth of Agamemnon and transplants it to contemporary Sydney. CHORUS is about the unending pressures on women to conform to certain roles " and the potentially tragic results when they break that mould.
In this new version of Aeschylus's classic Greek tragedy, Agamemnon is a pop icon just returned home from her nine-month, round-the-world concert tour. Rolling Stone described her as "like the second coming of Christ – if Christ was a crew-cut, queer, hot, vocal-virtuoso". Agamemnon has returned home to take care of unfinished business: dump her former partner Chris, grab her stuff and make off with her new flame, Kass. But Chris has other ideas for their first night together in nine months, and was hoping for a kind of reconciliation – and at least the chance to process the unresolved grief he holds for the death of their son, Gene, less than a year ago. Suddenly, memories that Agamemnon has tried so hard to keep buried begin to surface so vividly she could die. And she very well might. This original Australian work is partially told by a lively chorus, and the script oozes with Australian authenticity.
Performed in the intimate and edgy Old Fitz Theatre, CHORUS brings together a range of bright and emerging talents, including playwright Ang Collins. "I was keen to explore the ways in which the ancient text could be made relevant to a contemporary audience," she said. "Just like in the original, Agamemnon's terrible choice to kill her child has far-reaching consequences, but what has changed is our contemporary understanding of that act."
Playing the lead role of Agamemnon, Ella Prince (A Girl Is A Half Formed Thing) has been channelling the work of gender-bending artists like David Bowie and Christine and The Queen. "It's such an amazing opportunity to play such a unique and powerful role, written especially for this time in history. The work feels important and I think audiences are going to love it." she said.
Director Clemence Williams is also the sound designer and composer for the show, and has worked to create music and a soundscape to match the mega-stardom of the show's lead character. She's thrilled with the creative team she's assembled, saying "This production brings together such an amazing and talented bunch of artists, all of whom are committed to developing new Australian theatre in exciting and entertaining ways."
Oozing with heart but stricken with the politics of familial duty and responsibility, Chorus is about the unending pressures on women to conform to certain roles – and the potentially tragic results when they break that mould: when they want too much. When they go a step too far. Likely to be one of this year's most talked-about shows, CHORUS is certain to provoke, engage and entertain audiences of all shapes and sizes.
Venue: The Old Fitz, Cathedral Street, Woolloomooloo
Season: 28 August – 21 September
Times: Tues- Sat 7:30pm, Sat matinee 2pm, Sun 5pm
Duration: 90 minutes (incl. interval)
Price: $35.00 - $45.00
Bookings: Tickets now on sale
Question: Can you tell us about Chorus?
Ella Prince: Chorus is a contemporary retelling of Aeschylus's Agamemnon retitled Chorus by Ang Collins and directed by Clemence Williams. We have bought the story into contemporary Sydney and it is about an Australian pop star whose chosen name is Agamemnon. We meet Agamemnon at the height of her fame and the story is told through the chorus whose embodiment is extracted in a really interesting way through design elements and projection, in the first instance. It is quite a revolutionary piece in terms of staging and the physically representation of character; all those elements are at play to create a very fresh representation of one individuals story.
Question: What originally drew you to the story of Chorus?
Ella Prince: Aside from the people involved; Chorus has a predominantly female creative team, all of whom have a body of work within the theatre scene and a couple of whom I've worked with before so I trust them very much. I felt initially really excited by the prospect of collaborating with those particular individuals on a story that is very female centric. I was interested to discover who this person is as a celebrity figure and primarily as a female who has to grapple with certain aspects of what it is to be a woman in terms of motherhood and career as a balancing act.
Question: How are you preparing ahead of the shows?
Ella Prince: We are deep in rehearsals at the moment; we're nearing halfway through our full-time rehearsals. Chorus is a very technical show; in terms of the video element all of the cast have been negotiating how we work with that added element as a secondary lens on performance which very much alters the staging of the piece. I exist as the counterpoint, I am a physical body that you see on stage and the chorus themselves are mediated by video, those two contradictory elements have been interesting in terms of how we express the piece clearly and find a dynamic approach to the stage space.
Question: Are you enjoying the challenge?
Ella Prince: Yes, absolutely. It is exciting for me as I like to approach characters from a physical standpoint and discover who they are as a body within space. It is really fascinating and fun, for me particularly with the added element of Clemence Williams' composition as well as the vocal quality of the ensemble. Clemence Williams is a musician, herself, and has created the score for the piece.
Question: What message do you hope audiences take from Chorus?
Ella Prince: We have been discussing this intensely as a company; certainly we want it to be a thinking piece because we are representing a female singer and her story is being told by the chorus who essentially is representative of anyone who in this day and age consumes popular culture and how that is disbursed and re-energised by the telling of stories about artists and what they mean in the digital and social media age. Particularly at its core, what it means to be a woman in the world who negotiates by nature how she fits in the world and how her own image is replicated. I don't think you have to be famous to walk down the street and feel how your body becomes a commodity; it is very much about determining how one navigates that and how we take our freedom back.
Question: What advice do you have for young women with a passion for theatre?
Ella Prince: It is always a powerful image when you have mentors who tell you to embrace what is unique about you. I look forward to the change that can still occur in female representation, I think though it's not as narrow as it was, we still have ground to break in terms of how a women's story is told and how women express themselves particularly in females telling their own stories. As for any women creative involved in theatre, it is exciting to find those people who encourage you to tell your own story and collaborate with people who you trust and whose work excites you.
Interview by Brooke Hunter