Psychology is our new mythology,
And we are all our gods and monsters.
I have Robert O’Hara’s Insurrection: Holding History on my desk which I do not have time to read but I may anyway. A.C.T. is mounting his newest creation, Good Breeding, on its second stage with its third year M.F.A. students. It’s an adaptation of the Oresteia, but it may be more true to say that it is a reinterpretation of the myths the Orestia was based on. And have I mentioned yet that it is brilliant?
I took seven years of Latin, and although my teachers tried to drill the conjugations of amo, amas, amat into our heads, they found it much easier to teach us the mythology of the passages we were translating. We learned of Aeneas, Odysseus, and Achilles. Minotaurs and Sirens. Battles with the Cyclops and trips through secret back doors to the underworld. We learned that you can never EVER avoid your fate, and if you try, you’ll just make things bloodier. And then, of course, you reach college theater studies courses and you read your requisite Sophocles, Euripides, and Aeschylus. Then you read them again in Grad School.
Suffice it to say, I know these myths, and what O’Hara is doing with his disruptive, fates-be-fucked, feminist reclamation blows my mind. If you are in the San Francisco area between Oct. 9 and Oct. 25, you need to see it. I may just go on my birthday.
Speaking with O’Hara yesterday for an interview I am putting in the Good Breeding program only increased my desire to read everything he has ever written and will ever write. He is a soft-spoken genius with a fire-cracker wit and a sense of modest confidence. Good Breeding has been living with him since he was first introduced to the myths in high school, marinating until he found a way for it to come out. He has built it up in increments, and always with the assistance of theater programs at universities that were willing to pay him to take up residency with their schools: it began with undergrads in a small school in Colorado; then it moved to a half-grad, half-undergrad group down in San Diego; now it is here, maturing with a group of the most serious M.F.A. actors in the country.
Note to self: write a more in-depth post about how Universities are saving the American canon by creating a safe and economically friendly laboratory for new works.