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Mad Max meets ancient Attica in Theatre @ York’s “Hippolytos”

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January 20, 2012

Theatre @ York propels the ancient Greek tragedy Hippolytos into a fervid post-apocalyptic world with a provocative new production opening January 24 in the Sandra Faire and Ivan Fecan Theatre at York University.

costume sketch

As the goddesses Artemis and Aphrodite play out their wicked rivalry, the biggest losers are their human pawns. Acclaimed theatre artist Micheline Chevrier directs Euripides’ powerful and timeless play, in the gripping translation by Canadian poet Anne Carson.

Hippolytos, King Theseus’ illegitimate son, has sworn to be chaste and refuses to worship the goddess of love, Aphrodite. Instead, he reveres Artemis, the virginal goddess of the hunt. Infuriated, Aphrodite swears vengeance and encourages Hippolytos’ stepmother, Phaedra, to fall in love with him. Hippolytos resists the Phaedra’s advances, with dire consequences.

Pitting the beautiful, sensual Aphrodite against the austere and powerful Artemis, the play dramatizes the struggle that ensues when personal desire offends social propriety.

For Chevrier, this is what makes Hippolytos as relevant today as when it was written almost 2500 years ago.

“It grapples with the big issues: justice, honour, shame, family,” she says. “For centuries, we’ve explored these themes through art. Now, more than ever, they inform popular culture. Think of films such as Steve McQueen’s Shame, or TV series such as Game of Thrones, Dexter and Six Feet Under.”

Above all, Chevrier says, the play resonates because it reflects a constant human endeavor: our desire to improve ourselves and the world through a better understanding of human nature.

photo of  Micheline Chevrier, director of the Theatre @ York production of

Chevrier has worked in a wide range of professional theatres across the country, from major festivals to creation-based companies and from leading regional theatres to theatre for young audiences. Her directing credits include the Shaw Festival, National Arts Centre, Citadel Theatre and Manitoba Theatre Centre. She has served as associate artistic director at Theatre New Brunswick, associate dramaturg at Playwrights Workshop Montreal, associate artist at Canadian Stage inToronto, and artistic director of the Great Canadian Theatre Company, Ottawa. Her honours include Calgary’s Betty Mitchell Award, Ottawa’s Capital Critics Circle Award, and Toronto’s Dora Mavor Moore Award.

In Hippolytos, Chevrier directs a lively young cast drawn from the Undergraduate Acting Conservatory in York’s Department of Theatre. A talented creative team of undergraduates is handling all aspects of the production design and execution.

Established in the Department of Theatre at York University in 1969, Theatre @ York has been the springboard for a generation of outstanding Canadian theatre artists. Each year it mounts a challenging and entertaining slate of plays, featuring some of Canada’s most promising performance and production talent. Theatre @ York alumni include stage and screen actors Rachel McAdams, Thom Marriott, Deborah Hay, Patrick Galligan, Melody Johnson, Tara Rosling, Maurice Dean Wint and Christine Horne; playwrights Djanet Sears and Diane Flacks; and directors Weyni Mengesha, Richard Rose and Jillian Keiley.

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What:  Theatre @ York presents Hippolytos, directed by Micheline Chevrier
When
: January 24 – 28 Previews January 22 and 23 at 7:30pm, opens January 24 and runs to January 28 at 7:30pm nightly, plus matinees January 25 and 27 at 1pm.
Where: Sandra Faire and Ivan Fecan Theatre, Accolade East Building, York University, 4700 Keele St.  Toronto | Map
Admission: $17 | students & seniors $12 | Previews $5
Box Office: 416.736.5888 | www.yorku.ca/perform/boxoffice

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Media Contact: Amy Stewart, Communications, Faculty of Fine Arts, York University 416-650-8469 | amy.stewart@yorku.ca