Back to Bacchae
or, Divine Hospitality in an Ungodly Age: Your Rite to Entertain the Impossible, Performed with Euripides’ Play about Dionysus, God of Theatre (A Tragedy)
The first installment of the series Performing the Library
Make his house shake at its foundations! [Dionysus, in Bakkhai, tr. Carl R. Mueller]
"I perform in my own apartment
with a gently-rehearsed 3-person Chorus for an audience of 6–10 spectators, while other performers appear on screen pre-recorded and/or streaming live. A second audience is visible on monitors in the live show watching the livestream. A third audience just watches the livestream, and a fourth can access the materials afterwards, including recordings and publications.
Presented episodically, it conjoins the Euripides’ tragedy, Bacchae, about Dionysus, god of theatre and intoxication, with other Greek texts, original “Unsung Songs” read aloud by performers and audience members, and the Senatus Consultum de Bacchanalibus, the Roman “Senatorial Decree Concerning the Bacchanalia” that restricted Dionysian ceremonies on pain of death.
The Decree both parallels our current, isolated status, forbidden to gather in large groups, and it suggests the truth of art today, limited to small circles performing for each other like Pompeiian aristocrats before Vesuvius. At the same time, the live show functions the centre of a web of connections extending out in many directions, and encompassing links and references, pre-recorded presentations, discussions, activities and other elements, thereby reaching out beyond its immediate social circle into other domains.