Oedipus Tremendous: A modern take on a classic Greek tragedy

Oedipus Tremendous, Gordon Reinhart, Boise State
Image courtesy of Department of Theatre, Film and Creative Writing

An adaptation of a classic Greek tragedy “Oedipus Rex” by theater professor Gordon Reinhart named “Oedipus Tremendous” premieres at the Danny Peterson Theatre in the Morrison Center on Nov. 12.

“Oedipus Rex” is a famous Greek tragedy that tells the story of a king who attempts to avoid a prophecy that says he will inevitably kill his father and marry his mother. This adaptation will tell the story in a way that combines the original text with a more contemporary take. 

Oedipus Tremendous, Boise State

“[I] tried to not make it too modern, but not make it ancient either,” Reinhart said. “So the text still has some sense of language, and it doesn’t have any absolutely modern ‘isms.’”

The Department of Theatre, Film and Creative Writing was originally set to reprise “The Drag” this November, but with COVID restrictions still in place decided to go in a different direction and make the most out of the mask mandate.

Reinhart credits fellow faculty member Darrin Puffal-Purdy with the idea of bringing Greek drama to life at the Morrison Center in a way that reflects the original style it was performed in.

“[Darrin] called me and said if we can’t beat them, let’s join them and do Greek tragedy and do it in masks,” Reinhart said.

The actors will wear both singer’s masks, as well as theatrical, Greek masks placed towards the tops of their heads to create a larger-than-life look.

Zoë Kelly, a junior theater arts major, saw this as a unique opportunity for theater students and is excited to be involved in this production.

“That was an opportunity as an actor that I’m never gonna have, performing a Greek tragedy with Greek masks with stylized movement,” Kelly said. “It’s just not something that’s really done anymore.”

The addition of masks and contemporary language are not the only modern takes Reinhart hopes audiences will take away from the production. The two part chorus which opposes each other in opinion throughout the show will feel familiar to many.

Reinhart said writing the choral parts of the show came fairly easy for him as he had inspiration from everyday life in our country.

“The process was pretty quick because, of course, I live in the same world as everyone else, so I am constantly bombarded with what’s happening in the world,” Reinhart said. “It felt very germane to the story.”

Reinhart along with Puffal-Purdy, the costume designer for this production, also hint at the relevance this story has to recent events in our society and how their adaptation of “Oedipus Rex” will reference certain prominent leaders.

“I think the title might give you a little bit of a clue,” Puffal-Purdy said. “We might be comparing him to another leader.”

With shows running Nov. 12 through Nov. 21, students with a Bronco ID can reserve free tickets in person, in advance or purchase them for $5 at the door. General admission tickets for Oedipus Tremendous for all other visitors are available through Ticketmaster for $20.

For more information on this modern take on a classic as well as information for the 2021-2022 production season you can visit the Theatre, Film and Creative Writing website.

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