What would you do for love? In this bilingual rock production based on Euripides’ classic drama, Alcestis offers to take the place of her husband, King Admetus, when his thread runs out on the wheel of Fate. Written and directed by Seth Panitch, Alcestis Ascending/Alcestis Asciende is a unique Cuba-U.S. theatrical initiative. It’s the fourth production of Company HavanaBama, a research collaboration begun in 2007 by Erich Cartaya and William Ruiz of Cuba’s National Office of Scenic Arts (El Consejo Nacional de Artes Escenicas, CNAE), and Seth Panitch of the University of Alabama’s College of Arts and Sciences Cuba Initiative.
A play with music, Alcestis Ascending interweaves Spanish and English dialogue and features 15 actors and dancers from CNAE as well as 8 from the University of Alabama. As Panitch wryly explains, “Half the play is in English and half the play is in Spanish, so either everyone will be able to understand what is going on or no one will be able to follow what’s going on.” A Wall Street Journalreport notes that Alcestis Ascending is “one of just a handful of joint Cuban-American plays to hit the Big Apple since the Cuban revolution.”
Osnel Delgado, artistic director of the Cuban dance company Ebony and former principal dancer with Danza Contemporanea de Cuba, joins HavanaBama as a performer and choreographer for the project. Kennedy Center/ USIA Jazz Ambassador Tom Wolfe composed the score and will perform it live with the production.
Alcestis Ascending premieres July 1-5 at the Allen Bales Theatre at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, then moves Off-Broadway to the Harold Clurman Theatre in Manhattan July 9-21. Following this limited run, the company performs in Havana July 24–August 4 at the Raquel Revuelta Theatre.