Deaf Theatre Group Debuts a Fresh Take on Sophocles’s Oedipus at the Getty Villa

The J. Paul Getty Museum and Los Angeles’s Tony Award-winning Deaf West Theatre present a thrilling fresh take on Sophocles’s Oedipus this fall featuring a bilingual production in American Sign Language (ASL) and spoken English. 

Directed by Jenny Koons (Blue Man Group, Head Over Heels at The Pasadena Playhouse), Oedipus premieres as the 16th annual outdoor theater production at the Getty Villa.

In this visually rich and innovative reimagining of Sophocles’s classic play, Oedipus unfolds as a murder mystery, a political thriller, and a psychological whodunit. Throughout this fabled story of patricide and family complexities, King Oedipus is confronted not only with legacy and destiny but also culture and language. This reimagined production will center American Sign Language and incorporate present day technology, bringing new artistic facets to a classic piece of Greek literature.

“Oedipus is a classic true crime story, as a man tries desperately to solve a murder in order to save his city. Our retelling digs deep into the suspense of the story with all the elements of a thriller, including false leads, fuzzy memories, and a looming prophecy from a mysterious Oracle,” says Jenny Koons, director and adaptor. 

The Oedipus cast includes Russell Harvard in the title role of King Oedipus (Broadway’s To Kill a Mockingbird, King Lear and DWT’s Spring Awakening), Ashlea Hayes (Switched at Birth), Amelia Hensley (DWT’s Spring Awakening), Matthew Jaeger (DWT’s Children of a Lesser God and the 2018 Broadway Revival), Gregor Lopes (DWT and La Phil Fidelio), Andrew Morrill (The Music Man at Olney Theatre Center, Dancing Girls), On Shiu (The Female Gaze, Last Place Trophy), Akia Takara (All About Araya, Insecure), Alexandria Wailes (Broadway’s For Colored Girls, DWT’s Spring Awakening and Big River), and Jon Wolfe Nelson (The L Word, Blacklist). Additional casting will be announced at a later date.

The play will feature set design by Tanya Orellana, costumes by Jojo Siu, lighting design by Jared A. Sayeg, projection design by Yee Eun Nam, and music and sound design by Peter Bayne. ASL choreographers are Andrew Morrill and Alexandria Wailes. DJ Kurs and Laura Hill produce for Deaf West Theatre.

“We are delighted to debut our first bilingual outdoor theater production with the acclaimed Deaf West Theater of Sophocles’s classic tragedy,” says Jeffrey Spier, senior curator of antiquities at Getty Villa Museum. “Theater was a fundamental component of religious, social, and political life in ancient Greece, and as our program at the Villa demonstrates, these works still engage and delight modern audiences some 2,500 years later.”

“Bridging the gap between the Deaf and hearing communities is central to Deaf West’s mission,” says DJ Kurs, artistic director of Deaf West Theatre. “We are excited to bring new life to this classic story. We are thrilled at the opportunity to build upon the early precepts of the art form of theater such as staging and body language.”

Performances of Oedipus will be held Thursdays through Saturdays, September 7–October 1, at 8pm, with previews on September 1–3, 2022, at 8pm, and a special veteran show on Tuesday, September 13 at 8pm.

Tickets went on sale on Friday, July 1. Thursday night performances are $40. ($36 for students and seniors), Friday night performances are $42, and Saturday night performances are $48. Student and senior discounts are available for Thursday night performances only. Ticket prices for the previews are $25. 

Tickets are available online or by calling (310) 440-7300.

Oedipus deals with adult subject matter that is not recommended for persons under the age of 12.

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