Theatre @ York presents Dido, Queen of Carthage directed by Peter Hinton
“Worlds of Exile,” Theatre @ York’s 2017-18 season, culminates in Christopher Marlowe’s Dido, Queen of Carthage, an epic story in an intimate and innovative new production directed by Peter Hinton. Blending classical text with a compelling contemporary approach, Dido, Queen of Carthage previews from March 18, opens March 20 and continues to March 24 in the Sandra Faire & Ivan Fecan Theatre on York University’s Keele Campus.
Shadowed by war, Dido, Queen of Carthage is the original tragic love story with its hero Aeneas, the exiled prince of Troy, compelled by Fate to leave his beloved Dido, Queen of Carthage to fulfil a political destiny. Aeneas, the son of Venus, is one of the Trojans who escapes from the city after it is destroyed. In his exile he seeks refuge in Carthage. Learning of Aeneas’ experience and loss, Dido falls in love with him, only to be forsaken shortly after. Torn between her personal abandonment and national sacrifice, Dido performs an ultimate act of resistance.
Dido, Queen of Carthage is Marlowe’s first play, written when he was just 19 and still a student at Cambridge. Inspired by the fourth book of Virgil’s Aeneid, the story of Dido and Aeneas has stimulated artists for two millennia; from Ovid to Henry Purcell to modern-day science-fiction like Battlestar Galactica, with its exiled travellers seeking a prophesied new home. It isn’t hard to see the story’s appeal.
“Marlowe is considered the ‘bad boy‘ of Elizabethan drama,” said Hinton, a director, dramaturg and playwright. “Always controversial, he was a homosexual, a convert to Roman Catholicism and some say even a secret agent and spy. We are setting this production in 1593 in the Deptford [London, UK] tavern in which Marlowe was murdered that year. In a case of great synchronicity, the tavern was an infamous halfway house for political refugees. We’re using this as an imaginative point of departure for the play, adding some historical info around Marlowe and his death, poetry and music.”
Hinton has worked across Canada and directed over 80 productions. He has been the Associate Artistic Director at Theatre Passe Muraille and Canadian Stage in Toronto, Artistic Director of the Playwrights Theatre Centre in Vancouver, the Dramaturg in Residence at Playwrights’ Workshop Montréal, and Artistic Associate of the Stratford Festival. From 2005 to 2012, he was Artistic Director of the National Arts Centre English theatre, where he created a resident English theatre company, with actors from across the country and programmed the NAC’s first season of Canadian plays. Hinton has taught at the National Theatre School of Canada, Ryerson University and, since 2012, he has been the professional mentor for the York University/Canadian Stage MFA program in directing. In 2009, Hinton was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Dido, Queen of Carthage features the 12 actors from the graduating class of the Acting Conservatory program. All elements of set, costume, lighting and sound are designed and executed by undergraduate theatre production students.
Theatre @ York’s season “Worlds of Exile” explores longing, belonging, and displacement. Exile, refugee, asylum-seeker, nomad, migrant, immigrant, these terms share a sense of displacement and a feeling of otherness. While some of these terms can be defined in legal and political terms, others speak to a rift that generates a social and psychological condition. With “Worlds of Exile,” York’s Department of Theatre reflects on aspects of the varied experience of persons who, either by choice or as a result of imposition are living outside their home of origin, are othered by virtue of colonial exile practices, who have returned home only to find it unrecognizable, or who, as the children or grandchildren of exiles are living in two worlds.
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