An unflinching theatrical descent into a dark underworld of heroes, gods and monsters.
Hercules is a powerful and challenging new work from the acclaimed Daniel Schlusser Ensemble that drops a mineshaft deep into the bedrock of the Greek myths, hauling into the sun a foundational story of violence, infanticide, divinity and madness.
Read on as we take deep dive into the world of Hercules with creator and director Daniel Schlusser.
1. Can you describe the work ‘Hercules’ and tell us where the inspiration to create this show came from?
The production has been in development for some time, at least since I read Charles Kingsley’s The Heroes” at aged 9. Then The Madness of Hercules by Euripides was a play that I had never heard of, let alone seen staged when I read it accidentally (if such a thing is possible) in the early years of being a father of boys. The play is about Hercules killing his wife and children. Even though, statistically speaking, this speaks to the horrific epidemic of male violence in our contemporary society, it is practically a secret text, certainly when compared to the female version, Medea.
So, many sparks sparked many fires and now we interpret the ashes: The exotic and thrilling nature of the Greek Mythology, the taboos of infanticide and the phenomenon of a hyper-metastasizing patriarchy…the destruction of our planet and the death of old ideas of valour.
The final form is being shaped in rehearsal but we are bringing the audience on a journey that begins in a kindergarten and ends up in the bowels of Hades! It is a philosophical interrogation and a visually poetic meditation.
2. Hercules, a male hero, explores themes centred around masculinity and the patriarchy, however is performed by a trio of women. What prompted this decision?
Originally it was the “Sleater-Kinney school of casting”. We were after a kind of riot grrrl/three-piece punk-band aesthetic. Our last production in Melbourne was very influenced by Pussy Riot. But also, it was conceived as a corrective: Australian art often does masculinity-in-crisis by men, and perhaps for men. I wanted to push away from that and I was also keen to give these three women access to a palette that is usually the preserve of male performers.
There is something interesting going on in the rehearsal room: These performers are brutally unsentimental about the ideas of male heroism in this work, antagonistic even. The three women bring a fierceness and embodiment in the act of performing this work that is disarming and powerful.
3. Is there a specific theatrical style that has been incorporated into this work? Can you elaborate more specifically about the creative process behind the scenes?
It’s a mix of very different styles. Hyper-realism rubs up against the grotesque, gossip erupts into Myth. The performers are protean, and so are the designers.
The act of making this work is akin to processing trauma – we use a lot of improvisation, raising up pain, embarrassment, shame, and lots of laughter. It’s an ensemble creation, or another way to think of it is as a communal act. Sharing our experiences as individuals allows us to enter into a communal relationship with each other and our audience.
Theatre as a complete act, is our goal. Theatre as a space of doubt and a unique forum for problematizing reality. It is also a very emotional use of the form. Whether it’s joy, or sadness or terror, our theatre is place for audiences to get connected to very deep feelings.
Daniel Schlusser Ensemble, haunted by Euripides
Tue 24 – Sat 28 May, 2022
Tue – Fri, 7:30pm
GA $20 / BLAKTIX $10
Book your tickets here