Once again, the Free Theatre challenged Christchurch audiences with a production that took risks and jolted you out of your comfort zone
Jim Tully, Sunday Star Times
Written in 406 BCE, the Bakkhai was the last of the great Greek tragedies. The title refers to the women in the cult of Dionysus, the god of ecstasy, dance and theatre. In the original play, the women of the city, entranced by Dionysus, abandon their homes to dance, sing and revel in the hills. When Pentheus, the king, confronts Dionysus in an attempt to restore order and to re-impose the rule of the men, the consequences are devastating. Dionysus persuades Pentheus to dress as a woman and watch the women in their secret rites. When they discover him, they mistake him for a sacrificial animal, and his mother leads the women in dismembering him. She carries his head triumphantly for all to see only to recognise her error too late.
Who can take the place of Dionysus in our society now? Where does one find the kind of entranced dance that the god of Euripides once provoked? In Bakkhai/Diotekk the god is the DJ, the place is the nightclub, and the dance is a rave. This is where today's youth gathers to create its own culture and its own cult, led by the DJ. Just as the DJ re-mixes old vinyl records into a new techno beat, the ancient tragedians mixed their old myths into new dramas, and Bakkhai/Diotekk re-mixes ancient Greek words and rhythms with modern English and the old form of theatre with the new dance-culture. The struggle between Dionysus and Pentheus becomes a competition between two DJs for the soul of the dancers.
Bakkhai/Diotekk is co-sponsored by the departments of Classics and Theatre and Film Studies (University of Canterbury).
Old Story New Twist
Eva Hay, The Press, 2 November 1999
Greek tragedy meets DJ dance culture
Sharon McIver, The Press, 29 October 1999
Reviewed by Sharon McIver, The Press, 5 November 1999
Reviewed by Kathleen Gallagher, Theatre News, November 1999
Reviewed by Jim Tully, Sunday Star Times, November 1999
Recollections - Emma Johnston