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Culture

New York Euripides Summer Festival – The Madness of Hercules

NEW YORK – The New York Euripides Summer Festival offers a fully-staged production of The Madness of Hercules presented by the American Thymele Theatre.

The ancient play is a timely and moving tragedy from circa 422 BCE. As described on the website, “It depicts Hercules being driven insane by Madness and human beings trapped in a hostile world, sustained only by their love for one another and their sense of courage and nobility that cannot be defeated by authoritative forces.”

The entertaining annual festival brings wonderful ancient plays to the public for free each summer. As noted on the festival’s website, “Just like in antiquity, all performances are free of charge to the public.”

The Madness of Hercules begins its run on July 31 at the East River Park Amphitheatre in John V. Lindsay East River Park with another performance there on August 1. On August 2 and 3 the play will be performed at The Richard Rodgers Amphitheatre in Marcus Garvey Park, 18 Mount Morris Park West. On August 5, the play will be performed at Almira Kennedy Coursey Amphitheatre in Herbert Von King Park – 670 Lafayette Avenue in Brooklyn. The play moves to Stage II Theater, 777 Eighth Avenue, between 47th and 48th Streets in Manhattan on the 2nd floor for the final performance on August 6. Reservations are not required but recommended for the performance at Stage II Theater. For reservations, call 1-212-868-4444 or visit SmartTix: www.smarttix.com.

ATT was founded in 1993 to promote and disseminate Hellenic culture in America, and has since produced several plays in Greek and in English, touring the country and New York City public schools, and bringing the New York Euripides Summer Festival to indoor and outdoor venues across the city.

Last year’s festival which presented Euripides’ Cyclops was well-attended by a diverse audience, a testament to the continuing appreciation of the ancient Greek dramatic tradition even in the dog days of summer.

As noted on the American Thymele Theatre website, “Theatre, as we know it today, developed in the sixth and fifth centuries BC in Greece, as a natural outgrowth of the annual Dionysian festivals, dedicated to Dionysus, the god of wine, celebration and, by extension, the god of the human subconscious. The most significant among these theatrical festivals was that of the Great Dionysia, held in Athens. These annual performances also contained religious rituals and, as a result, required a sacrificial altar, or thymele, which became the focal point of the activities. The thymele (pronounced ‘timely’ or ‘ty-melee’ and ‘too-meh-lay’ in ancient Greek) was a circular, raised platform in the center of the orchestra (dancing floor for the chorus) used as a sanctuary and, during rehearsals, the director (usually the dramatist himself) used it, to better observe the overall action of each given production. For better acoustics, the thymele was also used by the flute players and other musicians in the performances. Those who surrounded this sacred altar were known as thymelians and, in the Hellenistic era, as thymelici. The dramatic competitions-festivals were a major component of the religious rituals in honor of Dionysus throughout Greek cities. Each city had its own amphitheatre. Archaeology provides evidence of such amphitheatres and, in certain rare instances, the precise location where the thymele once stood is revealed. Eventually, thymele was used as a term to denote theatre in general and it is cognate to the ancient Greek word themethlon as well as to the modern Greek word themelion, both words meaning ‘groundwork,’ ‘basis,’ and, in an architectural sense,  ‘foundation’.”

More information is available online at: www.nycgovparks.org and www.americanthymeletheatre.yolasite.com, by phone: 212-781-3631and email: AmericanThymeleTheatre@gmail.com.

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