Hughes' Oresteia Premieres at NationalDate: 28 July 1999
The world premiere of one of Ted Hughes' last works will make up part of the National Theatre's autumn/winter season. The late poet laureate's two-part adaptation of Aeschylus' The Oresteia opens at the National's Cottesloe Theatre in December. Part one of the piece, The Home Guard, begins previews on 24 September, and part two, The Daughter of Darkness, previews from 18 November. An exact opening date of the two together has yet to be confirmed.
A man is faced with the choice of killing his daughter or losing the war. Driven by personal ambition, he brutally murders his child and, in doing so, unleashes a chain of vengeance that rips through his family and community.
Ted Hughes was awarded the OBE in 1977 and created poet laureate in 1984. His extensive poetry collections include Birthday Letters, Tales From Ovid, The Thought Fox and Other Poems, The Iron Man and The Hawk in the Rain. He received numerous literary and academic honours, among them the 1960 Somerset Maugham Award, the 1974 Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry, the 1997 and 1998 Whitbread Book of the Year, the 1998 T S Eliot Prize for Best Collection of Poetry and the 1998 Forward Prize for Best Collection of Poetry. In 1998, he was awarded the Order of Merit by the Queen.
Completed just before Hughes' untimely death last year, The Oresteia is presented in his most personal, powerfully driven and pared-down style, speaking directly to contemporary audiences yet rising to the tragic vision of the original.
The cast of The Oresteia will feature Anastasia Hille whose previous theatre work includes Marat/Sade, Macbeth and Richard III at the National, Three Tall Women (Wyndhams), Uncle Vanya (RSC at the Young Vic), As You Like It (Globe) and, most recently, Claire in The Maids (Young Vic). Other cast details have yet to be confirmed.
The production is directed by Katie Mitchell whose credits include Rutherford and Son and The Machine Wreckers at the National, Uncle Vanya (RSC at the Young Vic) and The Maids (Young Vic). Design is by Vicki Mortimer with lighting by Nigel Edwards.