(Alexis Soloski’s article appeared in The Village Voice, August 4.)

JoAnne Akalaitis' The Bacchae at the Public

Sixteen years after a controversial departure, a return

At the beginning of Euripides' The At the beginning of Euripides' The Bacchae, which wowed Greeks in 405 B.C., the god Dionysus returns to the city that, years earlier, had scorned him and denied his divinity. He arrives to crush Thebes, declaring: "The city of Thebes must learn, whether it will or not, that they must succumb to my mysteries."

A couple millennia on, the director JoAnne Akalaitis returns to the theater that, years earlier, had scorned her. For the first time since her ouster as artistic director in 1993, only 20 months after founder Joseph Papp had named her his successor, Akalaitis will direct a play for the Public Theater—The Bacchae, which begins performances at Shakespeare in the Park's Delacorte Theater on August 11. The Public's current artistic director, Oskar Eustis, laughs at the concurrence of plots: "Let's hope that's not an analogy that plays out in real life." Then he adds, "You never know."

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