On the 5th February I attended the launch party for Gabriele Uboldi’s Oedipus Rex. Gabriele (Bacchae 2017, Ubu Roi 2018, Bacchae Edinburgh Fringe 2018, Death in the Quad 2018) who both wrote and directed this adaption of Sophocles masterpiece was truly the man of the hour, and looked absolutely resplendent in a rather dashing suit, singing the praises of his cast and crew enthusiastically. I was amazed by the manpower that has gone into this production, with around 40 students involved in its creation. Many of them were there at Beacon Bar, enjoying each other’s company and the signature cocktails created for the evening. While I sadly did not partake, I’m told that Daddy Issues was absolutely delicious.
While the atmosphere was lively and everyone in high-spirits, talking to those in the production immediately impresses upon you how seriously everyone involved takes their role. With such a dedicated cast and crew who care so much about what they are working to create, I am very much looking forward to seeing the final product.
I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to ask Gabriele some questions about his production:
What drew you to the story of Oedipus Rex?
I’ve always been obsessed with Oedipus Rex—I studied Classics in high school and I have been thinking about adapting Greek tragedies for contemporary audiences for a long time. I have worked on a couple of prose adaptations of Oedipus Rex, including a short novel. I think there’s something so archetypal about that story, that one cannot avoid referring to it in some way when telling any story. So I think that’s one of the cores of this adaptation, and an important reason why we should still be engaging with this old tale. One of the very first ideas I had, which is also what motivated me to write this, is Oedipus as a prisoner of his own story, a character that knows he’s acting according to a script. This theme is incredibly contemporary if we apply this idea to politics and social change.
How has the process of transferring your ideas to the stage been?
As both writer and director, I wrote the script with the Byre stage in mind and knowing that I wanted to use projections, music, and dance. Since the start of the rehearsal process, I have been lucky enough to be supported by an amazing team of creatives, both in the cast and in the crew, who helped me bring my vision to the stage. I think this is what makes this show special—the fact that it’s the result of a committed team’s efforts.
What was the main challenge faced during production?
With so many different elements to the production, from original music to projections, to dance, the main challenge was trying to get them all to take part in the same, coherent vision. Even harder than this was the technical dimension—with three screens on stage, live DJing, mic’ed actors, and pre-recorded lines, this is a technically ambitious project. I have been so lucky to have the most amazing tech team backing my vision from the very beginning of the planning process, so I can guarantee that everything will work out perfectly and will result in a unique, visually-striking, multi-sensory experience.
How has it been working with your cast?
Working with this cast has been incredibly rewarding; everyone is so talented and each actor’s interpretation adds something unique to the final product. There are 15 people from different years and with different levels of experience—as I like to think of this play as an ensemble-based piece, I believe that what really stands out is their connection and reciprocal awareness. As you will see during the performance, one of my main directorial choices is the quick transitions from one scene to the next, and the way that the character of Oedipus is brought to life… I don’t want to give it all away now, but what I can say is that there is something really special about that, and I hope our audiences will be positively surprised!
What sort of things should people look forward to in this adaption of the Oedipus story?
The strength of our show is just how collaborative and diverse the production process has been. Putting together original videography, music, dance, and so much more, this piece really showcases what the St Andrews community can do, and I hope it can offer something unique in our little town’s theatrical scene. This is Greek tragedy 2.0—contemporary, challenging, experimental, and sexy!
While many of us may be familiar with the story of Oedipus, Gabriele’s vision of this nearly 2500-year-old character’s story is one I believe will be well worth seeing. If you are interested in purchasing tickets for either the 11thor the 12thnext week, there is a link on their Facebook page. Get them while you can!