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Salt Lake’s Classical Greek Theatre Festival brings story of Prometheus to Westminster

Salt Lake City’s Classical Greek Theatre Festival brought the story of “Prometheus Bound” to Westminster College’s Courage Theater for its 49th season from Sept. 5-14. 

“Prometheus Bound” is also the same play that was first produced to kickstart the festival in 1970. 

Although the festival aims to attract a younger audience to Greek mythology, director Emilio Casillas said “there are people who come to the show, who come to Westminster, who remember seeing the sunrise shows 50 years ago.”

Prometheus (played by Aaron Adams) lets loose anguished cries while lamenting his plight. “Prometheus Bound” presents a part of the legend of Prometheus, a Titan who faced severe punishment after he stole fire from the Greek gods to help the humans.
(Photo Courtesy: Gavan Nelson)

The show is based on the myth of Prometheus, a Titan who stole fire from the Greek gods and gave it to humans, which he was punished severely by Zeus for. Prometheus, played by Aaron Adams, tells his tale to a chorus of ocean spirits and tells Io, a cursed mortal woman, about her fate while lamenting and accepting his own.

The six shows at Westminster will be followed by a tour to three other venues in the Wasatch Front through Sept. 23. 

Suni Gigliotti, an actress in the show and Westminster alum, has toured with the Greek Theatre Festival twice in previous years and said  “there’s a lot of adjustment to the touring process.” 

To tour with a full production, the show’s set must be easy to deconstruct and re-construct. The cast and crew also need to be able to adjust to various venue sizes and set-ups. 

“[Westminster] is one of the best performances because we have the lighting designer and all of the technicians are from Westminster, so cool things happen here,” Gigliotti said. “For the most part, this is the most technologically advanced [venue] we’ll get for the show.”

This touring aspect of the Greek Theatre Festival allows wider audiences access to the ancient Greek literature, according to director, Emilio Casillas.

Io (played by Carlie Young) fears the fate Prometheus (played by Aaron Adams) tells her is left to come as the Chorus watches on. Despite being made up of six people, the chorus must act as one, so a lot of work went into “finding their movement,” according to Chorus leader Suni Gigliotti.
(Marisa Cooper)

The Greek Theatre Festival has an educational outreach program that brings high school students in to see the show. 

“A lot of young kids have an immense interest in Greek mythology,” Casillas said. “So, tying that interest in mythology and that fantastical world to a classical piece of literature for the students is fun and can really get them engaged.”

Casillas said while it can be difficult to adapt a story that is thousands of years old to a modern audience, “there are components in these stories that popular culture today can recognize and understand.”

Keeping an audience’s attention is a matter of playing up those recognizable components, he said.

Jim Svendsen, the Festival’s founder and dramaturg, acted in the Festival’s first production of “Prometheus Bound.” He introduced this season’s show with a brief examination and explanation of the play and its protagonist.

“Prometheus for me? He remains the paradox,” he said. “He is a god, but a god who teaches us what it means to be human.”

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Marisa Cooper
Marisa Cooper is a Westminster junior in the Communication program who still feels new to Utah despite her two-year stay. No, she hasn’t tried skiing yet, but she recently discovered the genuine joy of long hikes through Utah’s majestic red rocks. In her spare time you might find her walking the beloved family dog or desperately trying to catch up on sleep.

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