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The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa Launches 2008 Villa Theater Lab Series with Ellen McLaughlin, Luis Alfaro, Jon Lawrence Rivera, Michael Hackett, Henry Goodman, and the Lookingglass Theatre Company

January 31, 2008

LOS ANGELES—The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa launches its annual Villa Theater Lab Series on February 1, bringing diverse directors and companies to the stage through fresh presentations of classical theater in the winter and spring.

The Series fosters new and experimental approaches to ancient drama and literature, serving as an incubator for the development of new works in the classical canon.  Selected directors or companies are invited to present four public presentations of their adaptations of a classic work in the Villa’s indoor Auditorium. Each is given two weeks of preparation, providing the directors, designers, musicians, and actors with more time to freely incorporate staging, music, and sound elements, unlike what is usually portrayed in a traditional playreading format.

“It’s just two weeks, so it’s very high-pressure,” says Laurel Kishi, manager of performing arts for the J. Paul Getty Museum. “We’re always amazed at what these artists are able to accomplish in such a short period of time.  The presentations often look fully produced, more than what anyone really expects. Audiences are incredibly enthusiastic,” says Kishi. “They’re coming to see works approached in ways they’ve never seen before.  People can’t wait for the next one.”

Past presentations have included Meryl Friedman’s take on The Wasps, Culture Clash’s interpretation of The Birds, and the Latino Theater Company’s Liz Estrada in the City of Angels, all based on comedies by Aristophanes.

In addition, the public was given the opportunity to experience a dramatic reading of Aeschylus’ Agamemnon from internationally renowned director Stephen Wadsworth, which will be transformed into a fully realized play for this year’s annual outdoor theater production at the Villa.

The Villa Theater Lab Series is an integral part of the Getty Villa’s public programming schedule of events, which is anchored by an innovative theater program. Live performances of classical drama offer insight into the social, cultural, and political realities of life in ancient Greece and Rome, while the J. Paul Getty Museum’s permanent antiquities collection and changing exhibitions deepen the connection between modern audiences and the tragedies and comedies onstage.

“Between the Villa Theater Lab Series and annual full-scale outdoor theater productions, our programming offers the public a bountiful mix of experiences, says Karol Wight, senior curator of antiquities for the J. Paul Getty Museum. These presentations convey to audiences the importance theater had in antiquity, and how it continues to inspire modern plays today.”

Villa Theater Lab Series Schedule
January – June 2008 at the Getty Villa in Malibu

A ticket is required for each event, and must be obtained in advance.  Tickets are available online at or by phone at (310) 440-7300. All presentations are in the Villa’s indoor Auditorium.

February 2008
Friday, February 1, 2008 at 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, February 2, 2008 at 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, February 3, 2008 at 3:00 p.m.
Tickets: $7

Award winning actor and playwright Ellen McLaughlin brings her one-woman theatrical/musical piece Penelope to the Getty Villa’s Theater Lab. A woman’s husband appears at her door after an absence of 20 years, suffering from brain damage. A veteran of a modern war, he doesn't know who he is and she doesn't know who he's become. While they wait together for his return to himself, she reads him The Odyssey, and in the journey of that book, she finds a way into her former husband's memory and the terror and trauma of war.

Ellen combines her talents with gifted composer Sarah Kirkland Snider and the Eclipse Ensemble under the direction of acclaimed director Lisa Rothe to present a modern adaptation of this ancient text that continues to resonate today."

Oedipus El Rey   
Friday, February 15, 2008 at 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, February 16, 2008 at 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 3:00 p.m.
Tickets: $7

Playwright Luis Alfaro, recipient of a 1997 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, and director Jon Lawrence Rivera present a violent and charged adaptation of Sophocles' Oedipus the King, in which a restless young man, recently paroled out of a California State Prison, enters the underworld of la vida loca in the barrios of downtown Los Angeles in his desire to escape his past and destiny. Violence awaits as the secrets of his life haunt him while he challenges the gods in his desire to be a king. This workshop contains adult themes and strong language.

April 2008

Friday, April 11, 2008 at 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 12, 2008 at 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, April 13, 2008 at 3:00 p.m.
Tickets: $7; tickets will be released on Thursday, March 20 at 9:00 a.m.

Director Michael Hackett and Olivier Award-winning British actor Henry Goodman collaborate to bring Philoktetes, Sophocles’ great meditation on war, honor, and the nature of truth, to the Getty Villa’s Theater Lab Series.

The play poses the question whether it is ever justifiable to act against ethical codes in order to achieve a higher good. Performed in the twenty-second year of the Peloponnesian War, Philoktetes won first prize at the Festival of Dionysius in 409 B.C.

In the tenth year of the Trojan War, the Greeks are at standstill—the war drags on endlessly. By a prophecy they learn that, in order to win, they must have Philoktetes’ magical bow and arrows. But nine years before the Greeks had abandoned Philoktetes, wounded, on a deserted island. Returning to the island, Odysseus determines to trick Philoktetes. His accomplice in deception is the idealistic soldier Neoptolemus who is the young son of the dead Achilles."

May 2008
Friday, May 16, 2008 at 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 17, 2008 at 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 18, 2008 at 3:00 p.m.
Tickets: $7; tickets will be released on Tuesday, April 22 at 9:00 a.m.

Chicago’s critically acclaimed Lookingglass Theatre Company presents Icarus, an inventive new work created by Artistic Director David Catlin. Inspired by the myth of Icarus and Daedalus, Icarus brings Lookingglass’ highly visual and physical aesthetic to this ancient story. Using myth, psychological theory, visual metaphor, song, gravity-defying circus and complex choreographic movement, Icarus explores the psychological desire to take to the air, the need of a father to have his child succeed, and the dizzying despair of falling.

Public Programs at the Getty Villa:
The Getty Villa offers a variety of public programs including theater, musical performances, film screenings, Family Festivals, lectures, and seminars. These events complement the J. Paul Getty Museum’s permanent antiquities collection and changing exhibitions, as well as reflect the scholarly activities of the Getty Trust’s four programs.

The predominant focus of the Villa’s public programming is on theater, rooted in Greek and Roman plays of antiquity. A major production is presented each fall in the outdoor Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater. The Villa Theater Lab, a series that acts as an incubator for the development of new works in the classical canon, is featured each winter and spring in the Auditorium.

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Julie Jaskol
Getty Communications

Beth Laski
Getty Communications

About the Getty:

The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that features the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Getty Research Institute. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Malibu.

Sign up for e-Getty at to receive free monthly highlights of events at the Getty Center and the Getty Villa via e-mail, or visit our event calendar for a complete calendar of public programs.

Visiting the Getty Villa: The Getty Villa is open Wednesday through Monday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed Tuesday and major holidays. Admission to the Getty Villa is always free. A ticket is required for admission. Tickets can be ordered in advance, or on the day of your visit, at or at 310-440-7300. Parking is $15 per car, but free after 5pm for evening events. Groups of 15 or more must make reservations by phone. For more information, call 310-440-7300 (English or Spanish); 310-440-7305 (TTY line for the deaf or hearing impaired). The Getty Villa is at 17985 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades, California.