In 2035, a sacred spring is threatened with pollution. A power-hungry ruler is blind to warnings about defiling Mother Earth. With their land in the midst of drought, people rally to save their water while aggressive reporters brag about “providing news that’s ‘Patently Palpable.’” A hip-hop chorus offers commentary and an old story is made new in “Oedipus at Ichetuckneea,” a re-imagining of the Greek tragedy “Oedipus the King” adapted by Santa Fe College Theatre Professor Gregg Jones and English Professor Stephen Robitaille from a script by Ian Johnston.
Set in the midst of a water crisis in a place much like Florida, “Oedipus at Ichetuckneea” is an allegory for climate change. The play will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Thurs.-Sat., Oct. 15-17, 2015, with a matinee at 2 p.m. Sat., Oct. 17, in the Fine Arts Hall at the Northwest Campus of Santa Fe College, 3000 NW 83rd Street, Gainesville. Tickets are $15 main floor and $12 balcony for adults; $9 for seniors, children and University of Florida students; and free for Santa Fe College faculty, staff and students with college identification cards. For ticket information, call the Box Office at 352-395-4181 or visit the Fine Arts ticket website at http://www.sfcollege.edu/finearts.
“Our concept is to create an immersive mixed-media theatre experience set in a dystopian future world where extreme drought and ultimate survival are the issues facing people in the fictitious kingdom of ‘Ichetuckneea,’” Jones explained.
“This is our swan song,” said Jones, who along with Robitaille will retire at the end of the 2015-2016 academic year. “We have a cast of 30 and a technical crew of 25, so over 50 students are involved in this production in addition to faculty and staff. Like the other plays I’ve directed recently, ‘Oedipus at Ichetuckneea’ deals with social themes and is designed as a teaching tool. I want students to learn about theatre arts so they can use those arts to make a difference in the world—this is theatre with a message! I want students to know that they have more options in theatre, in addition to doing the classic plays by people such as Shakespeare and Tennessee Williams.”
The role of Oedipus is played by Gainesville performance artist Tom Miller, who consulted with Jones several years ago about entering college as a nontraditional student on a theatre track. Miller did so well that he earned a scholarship at SF and is now a senior working toward a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the University of Florida.
“As art forms, theatre and film are merging and plays are combining technology with storytelling,” Jones said. “Oedipus at Ichetuckneea” uses these ideas by making the audience part of the action with video screens on stage and in the lobby of the Fine Arts Hall. Students in the Graphic Design and Digital Media departments will get hands-on experience in play production, as will students in the Theatre, Dance, and Music departments. Digital Media Technology Associate Professor Wes Lindberg is helping with the video and Robitaille is attending rehearsals to provide background to the actors from an English literature perspective.
The script incorporates references to today’s news (a “climate crisis,” water scarcity and water pollution) and to Florida landmarks (Ichetucknee Springs and the Silver River). An Artificial Intelligence Source (AIS), which Jones compares to science, plays the role of a computerized Oracle.
Development of the play can be followed on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Oedipusnew.
To tie the performances even more closely to Florida’s waters, springs paintings by Margaret Ross Tolbert and photographs by John Moran will be displayed in the Fine Arts Hall lobby.
This event is sponsored in part by the SF College Fine Arts and Student Life departments and the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture and Visit Gainesville, a Tourist Development Tax Grant from the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners in conjunction with the Alachua County Tourist Development Council.
For more information about “Oedipus at Ichetuckneea,” call Jones at 352-395-5004.
For more information about the Fine Arts Department or Fine Arts Hall, call Fine Arts Department Chairperson Alora Haynes, 352-395-5296.