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Hip Hop and Classical Collide in the Essential Theatre Unconventional Oedipus
Left to right; Ian Nottage as King Oedipus and Kevin Parks as Chorus Leader

February 20, 2012

. – In the Florida A&M University’s (FAMU) Charles Winter Wood Theatre two different cultures will collide in the FAMU Essential Theatre’s unconventional production of Oedipus Rex from February 22 through February 26.   This presentation of Sophocles’ Greek tragedy explores the use of contemporary hip-hop and rap music to introduce the classical play to new audiences.

Preview performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 8 p.m.   Preview admission is $5 and free for FAMU Students with valid I.D.  The scheduled performance is Friday, Feb. 24 at 8 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 25 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 26 at 3 p. m.  Admission is $12 for adults, $9 for senior citizens, $7 for students and free for FAMU Students with valid I.D.  

“This will be the first time since 2006 that the Essential Theatre has offered a classical piece to our patrons,” said Luther D. Wells, director of the production.  “I wanted to do something out of the ordinary, and since the Oedipus story is often taught in schools, I saw this as an opportunity to stir more interest in a younger audience.”

Oedipus Rex is the story of one man caught between free will and the prophecy of the gods.  Fated at birth to kill his father and marry his mother many knows how the tragic story ends.  However, Wells’ reinvigorating styling, coupled with Paul Roche’s skillful modern translation and the infusion of original hip-hop compositions by Kawachi Clemons, Isaac Carter, and Terrance Jordan, a collaboration with the FAMU Music Industry program, the production gives you something fresh to look forward to.

Roche’s translation contains the traditional conventions of classical tragedies.  Scenic episodes are separated by choral odes, which also contain verse recitatives that Wells thought would lend itself well to the rhythms that hip hop captures.

“I think the rhythms of the classical language respects the rhythms of both genres,” said Wells.  “So while the main action of the play is steeped in traditional restraint, the Greek chorus who danced and chanted anyway, just raps to a more contemporary beat.”

The box office is located on the first floor of Tucker Hall, 515 Orr Drive. It will open on Wednesday, February 22.  The box office hours are Wednesday through Friday from noon to 5:30 p.m. and one hour prior to each curtain.  For more information, call (850) 561-2425.

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