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Authority Questioned in Prometheus Bound

September 19, 2013
LA Weekly

Questioning Authority in Ah, Wilderness! and Prometheus Bound

By Steven Leigh Morris

In his program note to his elegant and fervent staging of the 5th-century Greek tragedy, Prometheus Bound director Travis Preston writes, "The dramaturgy of Prometheus Bound asks us to question common assumptions of theater practice — assumptions related to individual psychology, personality, and the nature of human motivation and identity. This exceptional play urges investigation of other pathways," which Preston goes on to describe as "communal identity, gestural power and the iconic."

That's all well and good, but his production — al fresco at the Getty Villa through September and presented by CalArts Center for New Performance — also demonstrates quite the opposite. Classical, individual psychology lies at the heart of this impressive production, alongside personality and the nature of human motivation and identity.

This approach starts with the play itself. (Its common attribution to Aeschylus has come under growing scholarly scrutiny of late, which would explain why CalArts has left the original author's name off its program.) The play is certainly primal, but that doesn't make it any less psychological than Oedipus the King, Antigone or The Trojan Women. Its crux is the lament of one demigod, the eponymous Titan, sentenced by Zeus to be pinned to a rock for eternity — or until he's rescued — for the crime of helping mortals by giving them fire and knowledge. Read More.

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