Greek tragedies aren’t really my thing, but I was too intrigued by this new translation of Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound by Bryan Doerries to pass it up. The show takes a hard look at the use of solitary confinement in today’s prison system, but it’s honestly so much more.
Uprising Theatre Company strives to tell real stories, and I appreciate their intention of casting by race in Prometheus Bound. Shahd Elkhier is a black female, and as Prometheus, she spends 99% of the show bound to chains hung from the ceiling. The imagery is pretty powerful and makes a statement in and of itself. Damon C. Mentzer and Ronald R. Giroux play white men in positions of power and will make you feel as unsettled as you may already when thinking about our current administration. At its core, Prometheus Bound questions the “right” way to punish someone, along with the “right” way to stand up for what you believe in.
Director Denzel Belin and Assistant Director Ashley Hovell are working with a relatively large cast on a relatively small stage, so it’s a lot of moving pieces to fit together. The minimal set allows for surprisingly fluid movement, and there’s a more physical theatre aspect to the show than I expected but rather enjoyed. The cast also includes Emily Rose Duea, Janay D. Henry, Missy Watson, Yvonne Freese, Fernanda Badeo, and Kendra Yarke, and in turn their characters add a new thought or question to Prometheus’ story.
Of course, there is no right or wrong answer to any of this, which leads to more thought-provoking discussion in the post-show talk backs. Uprising wants to inspire audience members to take action, and they provide resources to do just that. They’ve partnered with three different community organizations which offer simple ways to make a difference. Bring used books to any performance to donate to the Women’s Prison Book Project, sign up to volunteer for the Minnesota Freedom Fund, or or offer to host an informational house party for your friends through Neighborhoods Organizing for Change. You can read more about them on Uprising’s website.
Prometheus Bound runs through April 29 at Phoenix Theater (plenty of street parking available nearby). Click here to purchase tickets.
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