Creating the Play
Ed Falco, author, and professor at Virginia Tech, was invited to be apart of a theatre project in Crete where a piece of Euripides' The Cretans would be performed in an amphitheater outside the village of Kolympari.
After writing the prologue, parados, and part of the second episode of the play, they did a performance for a small audience made up of the Kolympari community in 2001. Upon returning to the United States, he wrote the remaining bulk of the play.
When creating this piece, Falco did not imagine it being performed as an audio drama. He explains,
“I adapted The Cretans for an audio performance. The play was
originally written for the stage. The adaptation required the addition of a
narrator to shepherd listeners through the various changes of scenes and
action. While I wrote the narrator’s lines, others are adding music and
sound effects to help listeners see what’s happening in their mind’s eyes.
[It] has been fun shaping the play for audio while working with a
talented group of collaborators.”
While thinking of what to do for a show season in a world with social distancing and masks, director Patricia Raun was looking for a piece where the text would be able to transport an audience into imagining their own visuals. Most classical Greek shows were performed on a bare stage, so picking The Cretans not only, in a way, pays homage to the integrity of the classic performance, but also gave her and the creative team lots of room to play and adapt this piece for an audio drama.
Rehearsals for The Cretans look different than anything the School of Performing Arts has done before. Meeting nightly for rehearsals over Zoom, rigging microphones at home for crisp audio, and navigating production meetings all via Zoom has been a first for many of the performers and crew.
There has been a lot of innovation that has gone into this production so far. The numerous complications of bringing together cast members and production crew virtually has
been a remarkable stride, I feel, in the possibilities of what theatrical performance can become in a pandemic world.
Jumping into this production with lots of unknowns seemed daunting, but the cast and production team faced those challenges head-on. "Being able to get together and rehearse in the COVID age with the help of Zoom and other technologies really goes to show how innovative theatre can be," says Jonathan Deans, a performer in The Cretans, "even though we’re not able to physically gather and perform, we can still make it happen."
The opportunities were limitless when collaborating on this piece, for nothing of its kind has been attempted before at Virginia Tech. With sound being the main focus of the performance, new techniques and ideas were applied to really immerse the audience into the world of the play."You may already know the true voices of some of the actors and actresses playing parts in this drama, but you should not expect any one person's voice to be as you would expect," foley artist Brandon Teague alludes. "Don't be fooled by some of the surprise voice appearances that may be present in this production. It's going to be a lot of fun!"
Everyone involved in this production wants to take audiences on a journey to Crete and let them imagine the tale of a classic Greek tragedy. With the future of theater unknown in a world with COVID-19, audio dramas may be folded into the new norm. Actor Kellian Moore emphasizes the new possibilities discovered throughout the creative process for this piece, "There has been a lot of innovation that has gone into this production so far. The numerous complications of bringing together cast members and production crew virtually has been a remarkable stride, I feel, in the possibilities of what theatrical performance can become in a pandemic world. I have no doubt that the digital tools and the skills of our crew and production team will make this a production on the cutting edge of virtual theatre."