On Stage

These Seven Sicknesses

Epic entertainment at iDiOM Theater

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WHAT: These Seven Sicknesses
WHEN: 6:30pm Oct. 9-11, 16-18 and 24-26; Nov. 1-2
WHERE: iDiOM Theater, 1418 Cornwall Ave.
COST: $25; includes dinner and dessert
INFO: http://www.idiomtheater.com or www.kickstarter.com

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

When looking at iDiOM Theater’s upcoming production of These Seven Sicknesses (T7S), the numbers start to add up.

First off,  those who attend the four-and-a-half-hour theatrical spectacle opening Thurs., Oct. 9—which includes two 30-minute breaks for dinner and dessert—should know they’ll be viewing the seven remaining works by Sophocles, the Greek playwright who, approximately 2,500 years ago, wrote an estimated 100 plays.

Another important equation regarding T7S is the number of dollars the Bellingham-based theater has left to raise in their Kickstarter campaign. At press time, they’d received more than $6,000 of their $8,500 goal, with a deadline of Mon., Oct. 13 to seal the deal. (If you’re on the fence about contributing, be aware that a $25 donation gets you a ticket to the show.)

A quick look at the explanatory and entertaining video on iDiOM’s Kickstarter page makes it clear this is no ordinary theatrical undertaking—thus their decision to ask the community for help in pulling it off.

“We were drawn to this project largely because of how epic it is,” director Glenn Hergenhahn-Zhao says to the camera. “It’s epic in just about every way that a show can be epic. It has a huge cast, it has over 50 costume pieces. It has original songs, a band, singing, bloody deaths, fight choreography, special effects… It’s just a big, big show.”

“But the spectacle of a show wouldn’t be worth it to anyone if the characters, and the stories, weren’t epic as well,” cast member Matthew Kennedy continues. “And they are. These are some of the greatest stories ever written, and they’ve had a long, long journey in getting here.”

Although they had started rehearsals, menu planning, costuming, physical training and more when the video was shot in August, in the week before opening Hergenhahn-Zhao admitted that things have gotten progressively more crazy.

“It is seven times more work than we thought it would be,” he says. “We didn’t have any illusions about this being easy, but the amount of rehearsal each play needs begins to add up, so our final week is much more daunting than usual.”

However, Hergenhahn-Zhao is confident the capable cast and crew will “reel in” all the various elements, and hopes that patrons of the arts do their part by filling the seats. He notes that marathon plays such as These Seven Sicknesses are popular on the East Coast, and says longer theatrical experiences such as these can make for lasting memories.

“There is something about that drawn-out experience that makes the evening more than a play,” Hergenhahn-Zhao says. “It feels like an event in your life. And with these stories in particular—these stories that interweave and connect, stories from before any major religion was founded, before any indoor theater existed, when stories were being told on stage for the first time—seeing them together feels epic in the best possible way.”

In short, audiences who show up to view the interlocking stories of Sophocles’ Oedipus Cycle and Golden Bow Series will be treated to a rare night of theater. Hergenhahn-Zhao says playwright Sean Graney has done an amazing job distilling each play down to a half-hour show without losing any of the magic. And, while many of the works deal with the offing of at least one major character, there’s also plenty of humor to be found among the death and drama.

When asked what he thinks Sophocles would say if he could see all of his surviving plays in one big night of theater, Hergenhahn-Zhao says he’s pretty sure he would be horrified.

“I am sure we are committing all sorts of sacrilege,” he says. “That said, it is out of love and respect for these stories that we reenact them, and with a sacred responsibility that we are invoking something ancient from the roots of our own history and from the dawn of theater.”

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