Program Information for Athens, Georgia

April 20, 2022, at 4:30 PM in Hearst Theater

A platform performance of a new rock musical based on Aristophanes’ Frogs with music by Stew (Tony Award-winner for Passing Strange) and book and lyrics by Paul Muldoon (Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and Princeton Professor). The final presentation for the spring 2022 Princeton Atelier course ATL 497/MTD 497, “Athens, Georgia.”

 

The Cast

DIONYSUS, a rock god — Charlotte Kunesh ’24
XANTHIAS, his roadie — Landon Chin ’23
HERCULES, a guitar hero — Asher Muldoon ’23
CHARON, a limo driver — Julia Elman ’23
LEADER OF THE FROG CHORUS — Arin Champati ’21
EMPUSA, a once famous trendsetter — Violet Gautreau ’22
LEADER OF THE RAVERS — David Booth ’22
AEACUS, a bouncer — Duncan Joyce ’22
A REAL HOUSEWIFE OF HADES — Erica de Lacerda ’22
PANDOKEUTRIA, a caterer — Alison Silldorff ’25
PLATANE, her assistant — Roman Banks
PLUTO, the King — Jonathon Som ’22
CHUCK BERRY — Roman Banks
LITTLE RICHARD — Tyqaun Malik White

 

The Band

Violin — David Booth ’22
Guitar — Arin Champati ’22
Drums — Rishi Dange ’23
Keyboards — Asher Muldoon ’23
Violin — Nina Shih ’24
Oboe — Alison Silldorff ’25
Bass — Jonathon Som ’22

 

For the Athenians

Director — Jane Burdick ’23
Music Director/Additional Music — Asher Muldoon ’23
Assistant Stage Manager — Julia Elman ’23
Sound Design – Katherine Graham ’23
Set Design — Nina Shih ’24
Costume Design — Alison Silldorff ’25
Choreography — Erica de Lacerda ’22
Program Note — Olivia May (GS)

 

For the Lewis Center for the Arts

The Princeton Atelier – Marion Young
Producer — Darryl Waskow
Production Manager — Chloe Brown
Stage Manager — Milan Eldridge
Lighting Design — Matt Pilsner
Lighting Technician — Torrey Drum
Sound Design — Kanitha Richardson
Sound Engineer — Neil Jernigan
Poster Design — Tracy Patterson
Photography — Jon Sweeney
Communications — Steve Runk

 

Musical Numbers

1. Here in Athens, Georgia
(Xanthias, Dionysus)

2. Land of the Living
(Hercules, Xanthias, Dionysus)

3. After the War
(Hercules, Xanthias, Dionysus)

4. Anyone Here for Asphodel Meadows? 
(Charon, Xanthias, Dionysus)

5. Liminal Limo
(Charon, Xanthias, Dionysus)

6. Loud
(Dionysus, Charon, Frog Chorus)

7. Immaterial to Me
(Empusa, Xanthias, Dionysus)

8. Gospel Truth
(Xanthias, Dionysus, Charon, Ravers)

9. You Think It’s Easy to be a Bouncer?
(Aeacus, Charon, Xanthias, Dionysus)

10. All You Can Eat
(Real Housewives of Hades, Xanthias, Dionysus)

11. Song and Dance
(Pandokeutria, Platane, Xanthias, Dionysus, Aeacus)

12. Guitar Hero
(Pluto, Xanthias, Dionysus)

13. Don’t Get Heavy
(Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Xanthias, Dionysus)

14. Drive-by at the Drive-in 
(Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Xanthias, Dionysus)

15. Land of the Living (Reprise)
(Little Richard, Pluto, Xanthias, Dionysus)

16. Anyone Here for Athens, Georgia?
(Little Richard, Xanthias, Dionysus, Charon, Ensemble)

 

Program Note

Aristophanes’ Frogs was first performed at the Lenaia, an annual Athenian festival, in 405 B.C. Eight years after the devastating Sicilian Expedition, Athens was entering the final year of the Peloponnesian War; death and loss had long been on Athenians’ minds, and the deaths in 406 of their foremost tragedians, Euripides and Sophocles, had added insult to injury. The Frogs presented a playful remedy, sending Dionysus to Hades to bring back Euripides to Athens. The wishful thinking it engaged, the thought of recalling the dead back to life, must have resonated among viewers who had lost fathers, brothers, sons, and friends in the long years of war prior.

Athens, Georgia transposes the Frogs 2400 years and 5500 miles, from fifth century Athens to a modern (and homonymous) college town. Athens, Georgia became an unexpected hub for punk-rock and alternative music in the late 1970s, launching the careers of R.E.M., the B-52s, and Pylon, among others. The scene there was characterized by rebellion—against musical norms, against expectations of gender and sexuality—and enabled by Athens’ low cost of living and nearby resources at the University of Georgia. The local 40 Watt Club was the heart of the scene: it’s here, then, that this production’s Dionysus starts his journey to the Underworld, this time to bring Little Richard back to Athens.

Aristophanes himself, as it happens, has a proclivity for “coming back from the dead”— or, perhaps it’s more appropriate to say, for never dying at all. An overview of the reception of his work could fill entire volumes. More familiar adaptations include Burt Shevelove’s production of the Frogs at Yale in 1941, its 1974 revival at the Yale Exhibition Swimming Pool with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and a third revival in 2004 at Lincoln Center. We can look earlier to Zora Neale Hurston and Theodore Brown’s adaptations of Lysistrata in the 1930s, and much, much earlier to fourth-century productions of Aristophanes in Magna Graecia, as proven in recent scholarship on vase painting. Athens, Georgia is almost certainly the first to feature the rock god Dionysus, the Real Housewives of Hades, and a Hercules who is somewhat reminiscent of Keith Richards. It’s hard to say for sure— but we think Aristophanes would approve.

— Olivia May (GS)

 

Special Thanks

Special thanks to Michael Cadden (Interim Chair of the Lewis Center), Oskar Eustis (Artistic Director, The Public Theatre), Barbara Graziosi (Princeton University, Classics), Emily Greenwood (Princeton University, Classics) and Grace Elizabeth Hale (University of Virginia), all of whom visited Atelier 497 over the course of the semester.

 

 


Lewis Center for the Arts

Interim Chair: Michael Cadden
Executive Director: Marion Friedman Young

Director of the Princeton Atelier: Paul Muldoon

View a full list of Princeton Atelier Faculty and Guest Artists

For a look at all the people working behind the scenes to bring you this event, view a full list of LCA staff members  »

The programs of the Peter B. Lewis Center for the Arts are made possible through the generous support of many alumni and other donors. View a full list of LCA Supporters »

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