Monday, October 22, 2012

The Iliad Becomes An Iliad

A little more about the Undermain Theatre production of An Iliad in Deep Ellum. Bruce DuBose does the talking and Paul Semrad plays most of the instrumental mood music.

As you can see from the theatre card pictured above via the electrical outlet, this version of The Iliad has modern connections. Most of them are subtle, but two stand out from what I saw this past weekend. First, when the Poet (DuBose) begins reeling off where the Greek contingents arrayed against Hittite Troy (Ἴλιον aka Ilion or ILIUM) come from, it dawns on him (his persona): the audience may not be familiar with these ancient lands or peoples. So he updates them to different locales around today's USA -- the more to drive home the universal relevance of the epic story, song and poem of the Trojan War. The audience immediately connects the Trojan War to, say, the Afghanistan War, or the Syrian Civil War. And indeed, later on the Poet reads the names of wars from a long scroll, a representative sample only of what seems like a hundred of them from the Trojan War right up to Syria and the burning of Aleppo. The audience winces during this litany, chilled to the bones, and for good reason. It would seem that humankind is doomed to keep clawing itself to pieces down through the ages and right off into the future. Or as George Santayana noted in 1922, between the Great War to End All Wars and WW2: "only the dead have seen the end of war." But we were and are and will be human all the way. An Iliad also reminds us to live life while we can, because mischief awaits us at every turn. Be hospitable to poets and other artists, Homer seems to be saying, and they will make the way more palatable in return. Good one.

Today's Rune: Separation (Reversed).         


Charles Gramlich said...

"Only the dead have seen the end of war." What a great line, and so true.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I need to read this again as an adult.