John Jesurun [New York]



30.11 – 02.12.2006

The Gulf War and the Greek myth of Philoctetes in a mixture of theatre and video

In 1993, immediately after the first Gulf War, the American author and dramatist wrote Philoktetes, an adaptation of the Greek myth. Several scenes from this work were incorporated into the triptych entitled Philoktetes-variaties (1994), a Kaaitheater production directed by Jan Ritsema. This was the last production in which the Wooster Group actor Ron Vawter appeared shortly before dying of AIDS. The story of Philoctetes, the Greek warrior whose wound smelled so noxious that he was banned to the uninhabited island of Lemnos and ostracized by his comrades-in-arms on the way to Troy, has consequently also become a metaphor for  AIDS.

At the end of 2004 John Jesurun staged his Philoktetes himself. Ten years after being banished to the island, the ill and lonely Philoctetes is visited once more by Odysseus and Neoptolemus. It had been predicted that the Greeks could only win the Trojan War if the bow of Heracles was used in battle. This bow was in Philoctetes’ possession and Odysseus and Neoptolemus’ came to get it from him.

In his version, Jesurun moves back and forth between classical and modern language and as a director opts for a combination of acting and video. The creation was staged at the spielzeiteuropa festival, a section of the Berliner Festspiele. Jesurun also directed a Japanese version with Noh theater legend Hideo Kanze as Philoktetes.

The Kaaitheater’s presentation of Philoktetes is part of a long tradition of presenting American work. In addition to the Wooster Group, over the past years the Kaaitheater has presented work by Claude Wampler, The Builders Association, Richard Maxwell, Radiohole and Big Art Group. In each case the Kaaitheater was the first to present these groups in Belgium and this proved to be an important step in making their work more accessible in Europe.

Texte, mise en scène, vidéo et décor John Jesurun
Avec Pedro Pascal (Philoktetes), Oscar de la Fe Colón (Odysseus), Mauricio Salgado (Neoptolemus)
Lumière Jeff Nash
Régie Richard Connors