Upon seeing Oedipus el Rey, I was excited by the fact that it was based in Los Angeles, my hometown. While my life was far removed from the world of those in prison, the dialogue, the references, and even the rhythm of the language reminded me of my community. Hearing Jocasta speak about her sister in Forest Lawn, a cemetery whose shining cross on the hill can be seen from the hill my parents live on, or hearing Oedipus call Creon “King Taco”, a local restaurant chain whose food I ate WAY too much of in high school, made me smile.
And yet, while the location and even the streets were so specific, there was universality to the story. The fact that a contemporary setting and characters are woven seamlessly into the narrative and structure of classical theatre is pretty amazing. I recognized the chorus but on stage but also recognized the guys hanging out on the street corner. I was also struck with the important role tattoos played. Even having read the script several times, it wasn’t until I saw the play that I made connections with aboriginal cultures that mark their bodies and even the stories in Amy Tan’s Woman Warrior that depicts the body as a canvas for storytelling. And yet Oedipus didn’t know his story – he wasn’t marked until the end…and then he learned the truth.
Seeing the play on stage, even more than reading it, I saw an emphasis on the importance of storytelling, whether they’re found in religion, family, or the library. We pattern our lives after them and we use them as references for decision making.
~ Brandon Gryde, Claque Member and Oedipus el Rey Working Group Member