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THE GENTLEST WORK – A queer myth in pieces

Written by Christine Plastow |

Christine Plastow

By Jove Theatre Company are pleased to announce The Gentlest Work, the culmination of three years of work on our ‘Orestes Project’, which has been supported in part by the ICS Public Engagement Grant Scheme.

 

Poster

 

Loving you is the gentlest work

A delicate spin over a linoleum tile

And then you open your mouth to speak

Because you have to ruin everything

The Gentlest Work is a fragmented, digital installation exploring queerness, trauma, and joy in the myths surrounding Orestes through performance, poetry, and art. Since our inception, By Jove have been fascinated by the ancient characters from the Oresteia: our first two projects, in 2011 and 2012, drew on the underlying myths. For the past three years we have obsessed again over siblings Orestes, Electra, and Iphigenia, as well as Pylades, the man whose life becomes so tightly interwoven with theirs. We’ve read and re-read the tragedies around their lives by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, and imagined moments within, between, and after these narratives. We’ve sought out the queerness that is latent or hidden or, in the past, actively excluded, as well as the queer pieces of ourselves we’ve found refracted in their stories and the history of their stories.

Originally conceived as an in-person performance when development began in 2018, the shift online as a result of the pandemic last year led the company to rework the mass of material that had been generated into its current form. The fragmented, digitised experience of the world that so many people in the UK and across the globe have been facing has thus become part of the way By Jove have adapted their source material. By Jove’s co-artistic directors, SJ Brady and David Bullen, reflected on this adaptation process:

“During the successive lockdowns of the last year, the imperfect worlds of social media have become even more crucial for the queer community than they already were. Reflecting on this, we returned to the fact that online, Greek myth has long been embraced by many in the queer community for the way it can represent queer experiences. So in making The Gentlest Work a digital installation, we’ve created a kind of mirror to look again at the fragmented online environments in which contemporary queerness meets ancient myth, uncovering the ways this resonates with our own trauma and joy as queer people.”

In The Gentlest Work you’ll find a myriad of different versions of and responses to the myths – we invite you to chart your own course through the mosaic. And, as part of this, you will have the chance to leave your mark: respond to our responses, tell us your own story, celebrate and commiserate these mythic lives with us.

Tickets are available now via Eventbrite on a pay-what-you-can basis. The installation will open on Monday 7 June 2021 at 00:01 BST; it will be available until Sunday, 13 June 2021 at 23:59 BST, and the project will culminate in a live performance event via Zoom on Saturday, 12 June 2021 at 20:00 BST.

This event is made possible through the support of Arts Council England, the Institute of Classical Studies, the Hellenic Society, SCS Classics Everywhere, the Open University, the Louis M. Rabinowitz Foundation, and our Patreon supporters.

Please be aware this performance includes strong language, discussions of violence and sexual abuse, scenes of a sexual nature, and extensive depiction of trauma. The event will include captioning and audio description throughout. Feel free to contact us with any access or content questions at info@byjovetheatre.org.