Alabama-Cuba Initiative Goes to New York City

Alcestis Ascending

Seth Panitch, left, Alianne Portuondo and Jeffrey Horger in “Alcestis Ascending.”

From the July 2013 Desktop News Actors and dancers from The University of Alabama and the Cuban El Instituto Superior de Arte are “on the road” this summer performing in “Alcestis Ascending,” written and produced by Associate Professor Seth Panitch of the Department of Theatre and Dance.  The actors are performing the play this month off-off Broadway at the Harold Clurman Theatre on Theatre Row in New York City and will subsequently take the production to the Raquel Revuelta Theatre in Havana.

The play is one of several Panitch has developed as part of a research collaboration made possible by the Alabama-Cuba Initiative, which was established in 2002 to develop significant academic and scientific exchanges between the University and its counterparts in Cuba. He previously collaborated with Cuban actors to stage Christopher Durang’s “Beyond Therapy” in 2011.

“Alcestis Ascending” is performed in both English and Spanish, with Cuban performers speaking in their native tongue answered in English by the American performers. “Alcestis Ascending” adapts Euripides’ Greek tragedy as a rock-infused tale of fate, self-absorption and sacrifice, according to Panitch.

“As the Cuban actors are so physical in their approach, I wanted to create a production that incorporated dance and movement as well as text, to provide a stage to utilize the greatest advantage Cuban performers possess — absolute freedom of physical expression,” Panitch said. “I think the combination of that eloquent physicality with the specificity of American text work will be thrilling for an audience.”

Renowned Cuban dance teacher Osnel Delgado will pursue creative research in the areas of performance and choreography. Tom Wolfe, associate dean of the College, composed the musical score and will also perform it live in both New York and Cuba.

For more information, go to http://www.alcestisascending.com.