ABBEDAM adapts Orestes 2.0 – curious arts

Orestes 2.0 Feature Image

What is ABBEDAM?

File created with CoreGraphicsABBEDAM is a student-run theatre production company in the University of Alberta’s Department of Drama.

“We’re all about giving opportunities both performance wise and in all other aspects of theatre to students who might not get that as part of their curriculum,” says Jessica Glover, fourth year BA Drama major and current ABBEDAM president.

The acronym ABBEDAM stands for BA, BED and MA students. “It’s for many students on campus who maybe want to try an aspect of theatre but don’t get the chance in the normal course of their degree.”

This year, marks ABBEDAM’s 19th year of creative production. The group was founded in 1995 by recently retired professor, Alex Hawkins and since then has been run almost entirely by students with Jon Price acting as a faculty advisor.

ABBEDAM sets its sights on producing large ensemble productions. Specifically, the programming committee looks for plays with 17-21 acting roles, and aims to cast at least a third of these roles with first year students.

“The play needs to be something that every facet of the company can be excited about, from design to acting, to dramaturgy and more,” explains Glover.

Orestes 2.0 by Charles Mee

This fall, ABBEDAM Productions has lined up Orestes 2.0 by Charles Mee. Directed by recent BA Honors Drama graduate Harley Morison, Orestes 2.0 runs November 12 to 16, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. in the Second Playing Space at the University of Alberta’s Timms Centre for the Arts.

Orestes 2.0 contemporizes Euripides’ play and delves into fate, family, moral obligation and politics. Euripides’ original Orestes story tells the tale of a brother sister duo, Electra and Orestes, who are put on trial for murdering their mother, Clytemnestra. They do so as revenge after she murders her husband and their father, Agamemnon, as a result of events following the Trojan War.

Audiences should not expect the same tragedy Euripides originally wrote because according to Mee, “there is no such thing as an original play.” Everything is instead coded in a cultural context, taking whole passages from court transcripts, from magazines like Vogue, and other materials that inspired him.

ABBEDAM’s dramaturgy team worked in the spirit of Charles Mee with their adaptation.

“We opted to update Mee’s references and transplant them into a Canadian context, in the spirit of his own (re)making project,” explains Morison. “Rather than an American perspective circa 1990 on the Greek classic, we wanted to give our audience a contemporary, Canadian frame.”

What resulted was a collage-like creative process where things were pieced together in order to create something with a different and unique context.

Ashleigh Hicks (Electra). Photographer: Mary Polo
Ashleigh Hicks (Electra). Photographer: Mary Polo
Gabriel Richardson (Orestes). Photographer: Mary Polo
Gabriel Richardson (Orestes). Photographer: Mary Polo
Matt Ayache (Pylades) Photographer: Mary Polo
Matt Ayache (Pylades) Photographer: Mary Polo

Part of the fun for the audience at Orestes 2.0 will be picking out the pastiched parts and realizing what those individual pop cultural references mean in the context of everything else. Think of relations between characters paralleling something in the latest episode of popular television shows.

“Mee’s Orestes 2.0 is a very, very, black comedy. There is a lot of crazy subject matter,” says Morison with a smile. “I hope the audience is shocked, surprised, and uncomfortable at points but ultimately it is a really fun play. It is brutal and irreverent — kind of a wild ride.”

If you want to learn more about the adaptation of Orestes 2.0 and ABBEDAM’s dramaturgical processes working with the text, please check out our dramaturgy blog at:

About Charles Mee

Charles Mee is an American born playwright and recipient of the prestigious lifetime achievement award in drama from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is the current head at Columbia University for the playwriting program and has written plays such as Orestes 2.0, Trojan Women: A Love Story, Big Love and Hotel Cassiopeia among others that are available to the public for free access on his website

Guest post by Liam Salmon

LiamAbbedamLiam Salmon is finishing up his after degree in Drama after previously completing his Bachelor of Education in 2013. He’s an emerging playwright, but has dabbled in Dramaturgy, Costume Design and Acting.


Presenter: ABBEDAM Productions
Event Title: Orestes 2.0
Dates: November 12 to 16, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. There is a preview on Wednesday, November 12 at 7:30 p.m. and two matinee performances November 15 and 16 at 2 p.m.
Venue: Second Playing Space at the University of Alberta’s Timms Centre for the Arts (87 Avenue & 112 Street, University of Alberta North Campus).
Tickets: Tickets are $10 for students and seniors ($5 for preview) and $15 for adults ($10 for preview) on-sale through Tix on the Square and at the door.

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