WSC Avant Bard is prepared to do just that with its upcoming production of “The Bacchae,” Euripides’ play about Dionysus (the god of everything your parents told you not to do), wild drunken rites, and the doom that befalls King Pentheus and his mother, Agave, who attempt to abstain from worshipping at Dionysus’s altar.
No party is complete without the perfect playlist, which is where composer Mariano Vales comes in. Vales wrote seven original songs for the show. “There’s some gypsy music in it, some African, some Brazilian, some tango, some alternative rock,” Vales explained. “It’s a mix of all the things that I am or that I listen to.”
The music — written for guitars, violins and an ethnic percussion section (the cajon and djembe) — will be accompanied by soloists and the Greek chorus, whose odes narrate much of the play.
“It’s very violent and very passionate at the same time,” Vales explained, noting that the climax of the story involves a character being ripped apart by a pack of possessed women. The women “had to be like sirens, to tempt this guy into going to his own death.”
The play’s enduring popularity could be summed up in three words, Vales pointed out: “sex and violence — but on a deeper level,” he added. “It’s a play that opens up so many questions about the way you stand before universal notions such as the divinity, and what is right and what is wrong. . . . It’s a play that remains open.”
Thursday to July 1, Artisphere, 1101 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, www. wscavantbard.org, 703-418-4808.
Woolly will Free the Beast
On Monday night, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company announced the public launch of Free the Beast, a fundraising campaign whose goal is to support the production of 25 plays over the next 10 years. It has collected $1.8 million toward its $4 million goal; it has also secured a matching donation for the next $500,000 it raises. The company hopes to raise the full amount by July 2013. The money will be doled out in $400,000 increments over the following 10 years.
The gist of it, said Board President Pete Miller, is to greet artists with “a big bag of yes,” allowing Woolly to greenlight “projects that, in the past, we were excited about but [couldn’t] afford.”
Artistic Director Howard Shalwitz perched on a stool in front of a crowd of about 50 of Woolly’s most dedicated donors to explain that Free the Beast is something the Woolly team has “been talking about since 2005.” He thanked the contributors for “always support[ing] our restless ambition,” ambition he thinks is too often caged by limited time and resources.