Penelope Skinner talks with The San Francisco Chronicle
Magic’s 2015/2016 Season
Join the Steppenwolf Society!
Be on the List
Search the Magic
Oedipus el Rey
A reimagined classic by Luis Alfaro
BEGINS January 28
Do you believe in destiny? With his unique Chicano swagger and sly sense of humor, Luis Alfaro transforms Sophocles’ ancient tale into an electrifying and unforgettable myth for the modern age. As Oedipus struggles against fate amidst a chorus of prison inmates, his epic journey takes him down California’s dusty Highway 99 from the Golden Gate Bridge to the City of Angels.
Oedipus el Rey is a National New Play Network World Premiere.
Running time: 90 minutes, no intermission
Note: Please be advised that this production contains adult language, violence, and nudity.
Listen to Luis Alfaro and Loretta Greco on Forum!
Follow along as we develop, rehearse, and perform our new show! Read about Oedipus el Rey in our blog:
Don’t miss No Holds Barrio, the one-night-only solo show by Oedipus el Rey playwright Luis Alfaro!
February 19, 2010 at 10pm (after Oedipus el Rey)
watch a video
read features and reviews of Oedipus el Rey
"Alfaro may be the first, Sophocles included, to place the love of Oedipus and Jocasta squarely at the play's tragic center. More than that, he makes it resonate with a passion fully enhanced not only by the spare poetry of his text but also by Greco's intense staging and the naked vulnerability of two fully committed actors in the show that opened Wednesday." [Read the full article here]
"Let me start by just saying you should go see this play immediately. It runs until February 28 and I am serious. I've seen plays on every level, from grade school tantrum fiascos to Kneehigh Theater Company, but this may have been my best experience." [Read the full article here]
"I found myself completely immersed in Alfaro's transposition of the great Sophoclean tragedy Oedipus Rex into a contemporary Latino barrio landscape...the translation succeeds with the same amount of drive and vigor as Sondheim-Laurents-Bernstein's adaptation of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet to 1950s barrio New York." [Read the full article here]
"The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division awards 'Oedipus el Rey' Three Stars with Two BANGLES of PRAISE. Loretta Greco's innovative staging and pacing earns one star, the leads the second and the chorus the third. One BANGLE is given out for Jake Rodriquez's sound design where fifties songs always (and forever) appear at the right time. The second BANGLE is for the extra digs you'll hear if you speak Spanish. Great show. See it." [Read the full article here]
"I hope it provokes people to think about spirituality or destiny and are we all just puppets or can we define our future," [playwright Luis Alfaro] said. "I hope it inspires people to think about the quality of their lives." [Read the full article here]
"You know how people say they liked a show, but it didn’t blow them away? This one blew me away." [Read the full article here]
"The Magic Theatre's opening night performance of Luis Alfaro's new play, 'Oedipus el Rey,' is a memory I will treasure in years to come. (...) The evening was very much a personal triumph for the playwright and for [Joshua] Torrez, a young man whose impassioned and surprisingly mature portrayal of Oedipus is a performance to be treasured." [Read the full article here]
"For anyone who thinks classic Greek tragedy is passé, Alfaro's 'Oedipus el Rey' will transform your perceptions of the entire genre and bring a deeper level of understanding to things you thought you already knew." [Read the full article here]
"[Joshua] Torrez has the body of a man, but something about his face--the gap between his front teeth and his dark, wet eyes--gives him the look of a young boy. Torrez admirably convinces us that Oedipus is strong enough to become king of the barrio, but foolish enough to strive for king of the world." [Read the full article here]
"Above all, Alfaro makes it approachable. Even if one is not acquainted with Sophocles and has never heard or read the tale of his Oedipus, this El Rey is knowable. Creative touches in direction further amplify and balance out the amazing voice of the writing with significant attention to details... The play breathes and pulses." [Read the full article here]
"Now, you might think, 'It couldn’t be that good.' Sorry to disappoint you. It is THAT F%*#%ng good. No--better than good. Let's see, what’s the word: It’s F---ng Brilliant!!!! (...) Joshua Torrez (Oedipus) is the best actor of the year--he's riveting!" [Read the full article here]
"Alfaro is a knowing and competent progenitor of the style. The use of a four-cholo chorus, or Coro, is particularly deft, with the actors in orange prison smocks occupying the extreme corners of a mystically bare stage and calling on us to consider "this man" — played with a jagged, bounding innocence by Joshua Torrez — in a tough, sardonic but elegant litany that pounds open the themes of the play from the outset like a piñata idol." [Read the full article here]
"It's hard to imagine that Sophocles' tragedy 'Oedipus Rex' was any more thrilling to ancient Greek audiences than this modern Mexican-American remake by playwright Luis Alfaro presented by Magic Theatre. (...) This production does the venerable Magic proud." [Read the full article here]
"Loretta Greco's sultry world-premiere production...has a startling primal power. (...) Somehow Alfaro has found a way to make this incestuous affair seem poignant and stirring. That sense of compassion makes Oedipus' inevitable downfall all the more gut-wrenching." [Read the full article here]
"Oedipus el Rey isn't so much a play as a force. Its power is so immediate, sometimes I wanted to turn my head or cover my eyes from the truth."
"If you're going to see any Greek tragedy, see this one." [Read the full article here]
"Greco and her perfectly cast ensemble create visceral fear and dread in audiences who watch the attractive young hero move deeper and deeper into a tragic love affair." [Read the full article here]
"This is the most connectivity I've ever felt to these figures--whom I've seen played out in a number of ways in a number of worlds. (...) It was without a doubt the most effective Oedipus I've seen to date." [Read the full article here]
"Alfaro's decision to focus on the relationship between Oedipus and Jocasta made the narrative and tragic climax even more compelling. Overall, I really thought the play was fantastic. It was imaginative, surprising at moments (hello, nudity, I didn't know you were invited to this party), and it was great to see the playwright's hometown and neighborhood brought to the stage." [Read the full article here]
"It is vivid, it is fluid, and it covers a broad emotional palette." [Read the full article here]
meet the artists
Luis Alfaro (Playwright) is a critically acclaimed writer/performer who works in poetry, plays, short stories, performance and journalism. Chicano born and raised in the Pico-Union district of downtown Los Angeles, he is the recipient, among other awards, of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship and an NEA/TCG residency grant. In 2002 he was awarded the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays twice, for his plays Electricidad and Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. Electricidad received its world premiere at the Borderlands Theatre in Tucson, Ariz., and was subsequently produced at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, and has an upcoming production at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. A highly anthologized writer, he is featured in the anthologies O Solo Homo (Grove Press), Twelve Shades Red (Graphically Speaking LTD) and Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers (MIT Press); Out of the Fringe: Contemporary Latina/o Theatre and Performance (TCG) and Extreme Exposure: An Anthology of Solo Performance Texts from the Twentieth Century (TCG). He is a member of the New York playwrights' organization, New Dramatists, and was a resident artist at the Mark Taper Forum, where he is also co-director of the Latino Theatre Initiative. He was a visiting artist at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., where he created Black Butterfly, Jaguar Girl, Piñata Woman and Other Super Hero Girls, Like Me, as part of the New Visions/New Voices youth theater program. Black Butterfly... is also performed as part of the Mark Taper Forum's PLAY touring program. He has toured his performance work throughout the United States, England and Mexico. His short film, Chicanismo, was nominated for an Emmy award, won Best Experimental Film at the 1998 San Antonio CineFestival and was featured in San Francisco's CineAcción '98. A member of The Dramatists Guild, he is the winner of the 1998 National Hispanic Playwriting Competition and the 1997 Midwest PlayLabs for his play Straight As a Line which was seen in New York at Primary Stages, in Minneapolis at 3 Legged Race and in Los Angeles at Playwright's Arena and had its world premiere at the Goodman Theatre. His play Bitter Homes and Gardens premiered in Los Angeles at Playwrights Arena. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner was commissioned by South Coast Rep and was workshopped at the Public Theater. He teaches throughout Los Angeles including the University of Southern California and California Institute of the Arts.
Loretta Greco (Director/Magic Artistic Director) just began her second season helming Magic Theatre where she most recently directed Theresa Rebeck’s Mauritius. Her Bay Area credits include the critically acclaimed revival of David Mamet’s Speed-the-Plow and the West Coast premiere of David Harrower’s Blackbird for A.C.T. Ms. Greco’s selected New York premieres include: Tracey Scott Wilson’s The Story (Public Theater /Kesselring Prize/AUDELCO Nom); the Obie Award Winning Lackawanna Blues by Ruben Santiago Hudson (Public Theater); Katherine Walat’s Victoria Martin: Math Team Queen (Women’s Project); Two Sisters and a Piano by Pulitzer Prize Winner Nilo Cruz (Public Theater/Kesselring Prize); Emily Mann’s Meshugah (Naked Angels); Laura Cahill’s Mercy (Vineyard); Karen Hartman’s Gum (Women’s Project); A Park in our House by Nilo Cruz (New York Theatre Workshop); and Toni Press Coffman’s Touch (Women’s Project). Ms. Greco directed the national tour of Emily Mann’s Having Our Say as well as the play’s international premiere at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg, South Africa. Regional credits include: Romeo and Juliet and Stop Kiss (Oregon Shakespeare Festival) as well as productions at South Coast Repertory Theatre, LaJolla Playhouse, McCarter, Long Wharf, Intiman, Williamstown Theater Festival, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Repertory Theatre of St Louis, Coconut Grove Playhouse, Playmakers Repertory Company, and the Cleveland Play House. As a Producer, Ms. Greco has developed and produced the work of a variety of distinguished contemporary writers including Athol Fugard, Joyce Carol Oates, Emily Mann, Nilo Cruz, Lynn Nottage, Neena Beeber, Diane Paulus, Rinne Groff, and Lisa D’Amour. Greco received her MFA from Catholic University and is the recipient of two Drama League Fellowships and a Princess Grace Award.
Carlos Aguirre (El Coro) has been performing both as an actor and hip-hop artist in the Bay Area for over eleven years. He is part of the musical group Felonious and has performed with The Roots, Eryka Badu, Black Eyed Peas, Mary J. Blige, Blackalicious, Jurassic Five, L.L. Cool J, and George Clinton among others. He is also part of the all beatbox collective known as The Vowel Movement, which is dedicated to bringing vocal percussion as an art form to the forefront of musical expression. Carlos appears regularly at Intersection for the Arts with world renowned theatre company Campo Santo and with The Hybrid Project. Carlos shares his experience by teaching at various schools and at risk environments throughout the Bay Area. He is currently working with Lyrical Minded, a San Francisco based collective of urban teaching artists, in various group homes and schools in San Francisco.
Eric Aviles (El Coro) makes his Magic Theatre debut with Oedipus el Rey. He has performed mostly in Chicago in Jesus Hopped the A Train, Mother Courage, Whispering City, The House on Mango St., and The Boiler Room at Steppenwolf Theatre. Other credits include Zootsuit at Goodman Theatre and the world premiere of Love Medicine at Lifeline Theatre with Spiderwoman Theatre. In California, he has performed in La Virgen del Tepeyac at El Teatro Campesino and La Victima at Teatro Vision. He directed the world premiere of Amor Cubano: In Bottle, a Tube, and a Small Packet in California and New York. Film and television credits include Chicago Boricua, Once Upon a Time in the Hood, Just Visiting, and Walker Texas Ranger. Eric has a long history of working with youth in prison and schools.
Romi Dias (Jocasta) is thrilled to make her Magic Theatre debut. Some favorite Off-Broadway credits include Light Raise the Roof by Kia Cothron at New York Theater Workshop, Commit at Manhattan Class Company, Young Valiant by Oliver Mayer directed by Michael John Carces and Tight Embrace directed by Ruben Polendo at INTAR 53, The Ontological Detective at Blue Heron Theatre and Fuente at Cherry Lane Theater. Regional credits include The Tempest at Williamstown Theater Festival, La Ilorana at Eugene O’Neill Playwright’s Conference, Joan of Arc at The Edinburght Fringe Festival, Anna in the Tropics at Seattle Repertory, Day of Kings at The Alliance Theater, and at the Denver Center Theater Company she has starred in Clean House, Living Out, and Sunsets and Margaritas. Romi has appeard on television in Third Watch, Law & Order, and Saturday Night Live. Film credits include All Night Bodega, Sunstorm, and El Cantate. Romi is a graduate of Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University and is a proud recipient of the Princess Grace Award for theatre.
Marc David Pinate (El Coro) is a theatre artist, musician and teacher working in the Bay Area for the last 15 years. A proud Campo Santo company member, Marc has acted in their productions of A Place to Stand, Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name and June In a Box. He was last seen in the world premiere of Octavio Solis’ shadow play, Ghosts of the River, produced by Shadowlight Productions. Marc has worked with such notable companies as Teatro Visión, El Teatro Campesino, Su Teatro and Chicano Messengers of Spoken Word. As a spoken word poet he is a National Poetry Slam Champion. Marc directed Zoot Suit at Stanford University last February and currently performs guerrilla theatre on BART trains with his troupe, the Hybrid Performance Experiment (a.k.a. the HyPE). He teaches acting at San Jose State University.
Armando Rodriguez (El Coro) is excited to make his Magic Theatre debut. Originally from San Antonio, Texas, Armando received his BFA from Carnegie Mellon University and moved to NYC, residing there for nine years before moving to San Francisco. Some of Armando’s credits include Paper Doll at the Pittsburg Public working with F. Murray Abraham and Marlo Thomas, a workshop of Radiant Baby at the Public Theatre in NYC, What a Little Moonlight Can Do at Theatre 22, and Flack at Raw Space. Armando would like to thank the cast and crew including Loretta Greco and his longtime agent in New York and friend, Phil Adelman. He would also like to thank his beautiful wife, Damara, and their son. ............................. .................................. ........................... ........................... .............................
Joshua Torrez (Oedipus) is originally from Chicago and currently resides in New York City. He just graduated from The Theatre School at DePaul University and shortly thereafter made his first professional appearance in Take Me Out through Counter Productions at the Provincetown Playhouse. He also loves music, and he spends the rest of his free time writing, producing, and playing throughout the country. ..................... ................. ............................ .................... ................. ............................ .................... ................. ............................ .................... ................. ............................ .................... ................. ............................ .................... ................. ............................ .................... ................. ............................ .................... ................. ............................ .................... ................. ............................
Erik Flatmo (Set Designer) Recent credits at Magic Theatre include American Hwangap, The Hopper Collection, The God of Hell, Luminescence Dating, The Crowd You’re In With, Octopus, and Evie’s Waltz. He has also designed for The Imaginary Invalid, The Government Inspector (ACT), Betty’s Summer Vacation (Yale Rep), The Constant Wife (Asolo Rep), Richard III, Uncle Vanya (CalShakes), Radio Golf (Theatreworks), Endgame, Playboy of the Western World (Shakespeare Santa Cruz), and Frozen (Marin Theatre Company). His opera credits include Eugene Onegin, The Magic Flute (Opera San Jose), Transformations, and Cenerentola (San Francisco Opera, Merola Program). He has also designed for dance, including Joe Goode Performance Group and Trajal Harrell Dance Style. He was educated at Columbia University and Yale School of Drama and teaches at Stanford University.
Alex Jaeger (Costume Designer) has designed for Two Sisters and a Piano (Public Theatre, NY); Speed the Plow, Rock ‘N Roll (A.C.T); Rock ‘N Roll (Huntington Theatre Co.); The Paris Letter (Kirk Douglas Theatre); Looped (Pasadena Playhouse); Dead Man’s Cell Phone, Stop Kiss, Handler, Romeo and Juliet, Fuddy Meers (Oregon Shakespeare Festival); Third (Geffen Playhouse); Caroline or Change, Grey Gardens, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, The History Boys, and others (Studio Theatre, D.C.); and What They Have, Nostalgia, All My Sons, True West and others (South Coast Rep). His awards include an Ovation Award, an LA Drama Critics Circle Award, five Garland Awards, three Drama-Logue Awards, and an NAACP nomination.
Jake Rodriguez (Sound Designer) has carved out sound and music for multiple theaters across the Bay Area and beyond. Recent credits include Dogsbody with Theatre of Yugen; Rock ’n’ Roll and Speed-the-Plow at A.C.T.; Passing Strange, The People’s Temple, and Fêtes de la Nuit at Berkeley Rep; Don Juan at SFSU; Salomé at Aurora Theatre Company; Eurydice at Milwaukee Rep; and The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby at CalShakes.
Sarah Sidman (Lighting Designer) designs throughout the US and internationally for theater, opera, dance, and circus. Previously at the Magic, she designed Mauritius. Her West End credits include Jesus Hopped the A Train (dir. Philip Seymour Hoffman). She has designed for Dallas Theater Center and Shakespeare Theater of NJ, as well as Off-Broadway at the Public Theater, Manhattan Theater Club, New York Theater Workshop, Women’s Project, New Georges, Foundry, and multiple premieres with LAByrinth Theater Company. Her touring work includes the Big Apple Circus, Pig Iron Theater Company, River Arts Repertory, and the Hip-Hop Theater Festival. She is the Associate Lighting Director for Live With Regis and Kelly. Design highlights include new works by Stephen Adly Guirgis, John Patrick Shanley, Will Power, Denis Johnson, Rinne Groff, and Eisa Davis. Sarah is also of member of LAByrinth Theater Company. For more information, visit her website at www.sarahsidman.com.
The National New Play Network (NNPN) is an alliance of leading not-for-profit professional theaters that champions the development, production, and continued life of new plays for the American theater. We strive to pioneer, implement and disseminate ideas and programs that revolutionize the way theaters collaborate to support new plays and playwrights. NNPN was founded in 1998 by then-Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center Special Programs Director David Goldman with the support and encouragement of Founder and Chairman George C. White. They believed that new play development in the next generation should be regionalized by linking producing and developmental theaters around the country with their playwriting communities. NNPN’s flagship program, the Continued Life of New Plays Fund, supports three or more theaters which choose to mount the same new play within a twelve-month period. The result is a “rolling world premiere” through which the playwright develops a new work with at least three different creative teams, for three different communities of patrons, ensuring the resulting play is of the highest possible quality. NNPN’s other programs include The Smith Prize, awarded annually to an outstanding play with political content; MFA Residencies for recent playwriting graduates; the National Showcase of New Plays, hosted each year by a different member theater; the MFA Playwrights Workshop at the Kennedy Center; and new play commissions chosen by the membership. Through these activities and others, NNPN has granted nearly a half million dollars to theaters and artists in the 24 regions of the country where NNPN member theaters are located.
You don’t believe in punishment?
You talking to me?
Who the hell else do you think I’m talking to?
Cause if you are, I didn’t say anything.
You didn’t have to.
Well, what do you think?
I don’t think God punishes you unless you want him to.
You saying we look for pain?
[Tense silence. Beat.]
Okay, so, uh…
[No one says anything.]
What do you mean?
I’m just saying that for some people, God is a stick they use to beat themselves up with.
And how do you know what people think?
I don’t know what people think.
That’s right, asshole.
But I can look at them and tell how beat up they are.
You think the people in this barrio, the elders, the healers, los hueseros, beat them selves up with a ‘God Stick’?
I don’t know the people in this barrio.
That’s right, you don’t.
But I can see how beat up you are.
Fuck you, asshole!
[Beat. Trying to diffuse the moment.]
Oedipus, man… Let me just show you your room.
[Beat. OEDIPUS keeps his eyes on JOCASTA.]