FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Scott Reynolds: (212) 923-1010
February 16, 2007 – Handcart Ensemble announces the New York premiere of Euripides' Alcestis in its triumphant adaptation by poet Ted Hughes. Written by Hughes in the final months of his life, its guilt-ridden, widower protagonist prompted comparisons to the death of Hughes's first wife, the poet Sylvia Plath. Whatever its biographical content, Hughes's version of Alcestis stands on its own as a meditation on life, death, sacrifice, and redemption and toured the United Kingdom in 2000 to widespread acclaim:
"Wonderfully bold, punchy verse … I challenge anyone not to be moved."
—Benedict Nightingale, The Times
“Hughes makes this a story of struggle and, finally, hope in which death is conquered not just by Heracles but by unswerving love … [Hughes] heightens the conflict in several ways.”
—Michael Billington, The Guardian
" … especially poignant and courageous...Alcestis is a work that looks death in the eye without blinking."
—Charles Spencer The Daily Telegraph
Alcestis will be performed by Handcart Ensemble, named among NYTheatre.com's “People of the Year for 2006.” Handcart creates theatrical pieces which make rich use of language and imaginative use of the stage, with a focus on new adaptations of classical material. Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon noted the following about Handcart's September 2006 production of Seamus Heaney's The Burial at Thebes:
“I simply can't imagine a better production of The Burial at Thebes. Handcart Ensemble is a spectacularly gifted group, absolutely equal to the subtleties of Heaney's text. I'll go anywhere to see anything they do.”
In Alcestis, King Admetos, doomed to an early death, is given a chance to live if someone will agree to die in his place. When others refuse, his wife Alcestis unexpectedly offers up her own life. After Alcestis has died, questions remain: Was Admetos ignoble in accepting his wife's sacrifice? How to carry on with dignity after irrevocable loss? And is any loss truly irrevocable? The entrance of a naïvely brash Heracles brings a gust of comedic whimsy and steers the play to a surprisingly hopeful conclusion.
What: Euripides' Alcestis in a Version by Ted Hughes
When: Apr. 19 – May 5; Thur., Fri. at 8PM, Sat. at 2PM & 8PM
Where: Theatre 315, 315 W. 47 th St . (between 8 th and 9 th Aves)
How: Tickets available through Smarttix.com or by calling 212-868-4444.