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  • Writer's pictureSam Baldwin

The Second Cosmic Connection!

"Hades" is an album of semi-ambient music by art group/band The Residents from 2009. According to the band, "The original music was conceived to utilize two DVD players that were programmed to randomly play abstract bits of music. They would play 5.1 surround audio and each would play different things. The project (which required 12 speakers placed in a circle around the gallery) was entitled Chaos is not just a theory. In Greek mythology, Hades was a child of Chaos." This piece interests me greatly for a variety of reasons. Firstly, this album reminds me very much of our project here, centered around Brian's script. "Hades" is a loose adaptation/interpretation of old Greek legend, one that incorporates the modern to express an ancient idea. "Hades" uses mainly synthesizer pads and instruments combined with modern percussion, similar to hip hop and rap percussion. There are no ghostly wails, no sounds of a boat moving through the water, no mention of Ulysses or Hector or any other figure from Greek history. However, there is a certain feel this piece evokes, one that is certainly reminiscent of the Greek underworld. The album feels dark, ominous, and also very modern.

There is a strong emotional pull from the album as well, one that evokes dread, suspense, and loneliness. All of these elements appear in both Brian's piece and in the original Iphigenia Among the Taurians as well.Indeed, feelings such as the ones above are very prevalent in Greek tragedy, and continuing to incorporate those emotions as we move forward will help give the piece emotional weight. There is a sense of loneliness about Iphigenia, despite her highly-respected position among the Taurians. There is a complicated part of her that misses her family and her native land, despite the tragedies that occurred there. Both pieces are also rife with suspense, as characters are revealed, plot devices are introduced, and histories and backstories are given. I think there is less of a feeling of dread in Brian’s piece than in the original, and I think this is a nice direction to go in. There is more pop and energy in Iphigenia 3.0, and while we should try to use the greek tragedy as a template, it is important we not let it completely dominate the creative process.

My main question for the group is, How do we continue to incorporate elements of modern theatre into a modern piece that evokes ancient Greek ideas and art forms? "Hades" manages to evoke the Greek underworld, but in a subtle way by the use of modern technology and instrumentation. So what, moving forward, will be the similar tools that we use to express these ancient ideas? The use of modern music in the show as well as many other modern inventions and customs helps create a very current world that still has the overall sense of Iphigenia Among the Taurians. There is also the use of more humor, more spectacle, in Iphigenia 3.0, something I think improves the piece, so how do we find that sweet spot between re-interpreting past works and creating new work ourselves? There are a multitude of answers, all of which will have unique and exciting outcomes.

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