Flashing lights, pounding music, the beat whipping heartbeats into a lather, the hot, sweaty crush of frenzied dancing, everything spinning from an excess of booze and drugs… Another Saturday night in Palestine circa 25 BC-50 AD.
The Osiris/Dionysus Myth is onstage rapping in iambic pentameter when Philo the Pythagorean stumbles over to Euripides and slaps him congratulations on the back.
“Yo, Euripides,” shouts Philo over the ecstatic moaning filling the temple, “that play of yours, The Bacchae! That Dionysus dude? With the virgin mom and daddy Zeus all up in her box with the lightning bolt, and dude dying for folks’ sins and then coming back after a long weekend in Hell, and he’s all, like, ‘ha ha, surprise!’ and then up to Heaven to await Judgment Day, and yadda yadda yadda? Killer Mystery Religion Play man, sweet.”
“Thanks, Phil,” nods Euripides. “I wrote it, like, four, five centuries ago, maybe a couple hundred yonks after Pythagoras came back from Egypt with the whole Osiris thing in the first place— You down with Pythagoras?”
“Dude! I’m called Philo The Pythagorean! He’s my main bro!”
“Cool. Yeah, and now this thing is everywhere. So, this your hometown, Alexandria? Nice. Very Greek. I like the marbles.”
“Yeah, uh, so, like, I was wondering,” says Philo, digging his toe in the sand, “ I did that version of Exodus from the Old Testament in your style, and I was wondering if I could do a Jewish cover of The Bacchae?”
“Hey, knock yourself out. You got a name for the godman?”
“I was thinking ‘Joshua’, the Anointed, or Messiah, or Christ, or something like that.”
“Joshua? Is that a Hebrew prophet or something?”
“Yeah, it means ‘enlightened’. You probably know the Greek version of the name— Jesus.”
“Jesus,” bobs Euripides, rolling the sound round his head. “Word. Gonna give him some pimpin’ robes, or a technicolour dream coat?”
“Nah, that’s hokey. Just a towel, a cross and some nails. Simple. Stylin’.”
“You sticking around, knock back a few amphoras?”
“Dunno. You guys dump a lot of shit in your wine, like spices and marble dust n’shit?”
“Right on! Count me in!” hoots Euripides, and the playwrights do a ‘High Five’. (Cut some slack, these were ancient times…)
“Say,” says Euri, “back home there’s this temple does a fantastic sacrificial burnt ox, great sauce, comes with fries. You do that here?”
“Nuh-uh, but my mom does an excellent non-pork Hawaiian pizza on an unleavened crust. Come back to mine— we’ll crack open a couple fermented yeast-mush beverages and watch the Rome vs. Judea game on the not-yet-invented television…”
For the closest you’ll find to an Ancient Mystery Religion Gig, go see Screaming Weenie’s The Electronic Bacchae with a cast of local DJs (like Tracey D) MCs, spoken word and Slam types.
Also Radix Theatre, as part of the puSh Theatre Fest, present Final Viewing at the Lamplighter, where Prof. Goodman will discuss his International Centre for Active Goodness on the first anniversary of the day some benevolent bum pushed him out of the way of a speeding Mercedes SmartCar.
Finally, I’m a heel; I meant to tell folks last week about Spectrum Events Tsunami Victims Fundraiser with loads of hip-hop and championship yodelers raising dosh for the survivors of the Asian disaster. I’m an asshole, but you can still give, contact [email protected] Money goes to Red Cross, or you could just give your money direct to the RC— so long as you give and understand I am a heel. -
Electronic Bacchae by Screaming Weenie Jan 18-29 at Open Studios, 252 E.1st, screamingweenie.com, 604 251 1047
Final Viewing from Radix at Lamplighter in Gastown until 28, then Feb 1-5, 604 254 0707, radixtheatre.org