The School of Performing Arts will present the world premiere of the three-part audio drama “The Cretans” on Oct. 2, 9, and 16. The play is written by Ed Falco, an award-winning author, poet, playwright, and Virginia Tech faculty member.

The writing of “The Cretans” was set in motion when associate professor emeritus David Johnson suggested that Falco write a theater piece inspired by a surviving excerpt from Euripides’ lost play, “The Cretans.”

“I wrote ‘The Cretans’ after travelling to Crete with faculty and students from the Virginia Tech theater department,” Falco said. “The purpose of the trip was to work with actors and directors in creating theatrical pieces that explored catharsis as a means of healing. Some of the actors we worked with in Crete were from Bosnia and had experienced the horrors of that conflict. In theory, acting might provide a means of releasing the trauma of the violence they had experienced.”

This explorative production investigates the ancient Greek myth of the birth of the Minotaur. A total of 17 students, both graduate and undergraduate, are involved in the production as actors and technical personnel, including stage managers, soundscape and foley artists, a sound designer, and a technical support person.

The audio drama is directed by Patricia Raun, a professor of theatre in the School of Performing Arts and director of Virginia Tech’s Center for Communicating Science.

“I find theater the most fecund endeavor for growth for so many reasons,” Raun said. “Through the story of the birth of the Minotaur, we will open up difficult conversations about betrayal, power, justice, and love. In the theater we learn to work together collaboratively and value varied gifts. That is especially true when none of the traditional approaches to making theater is possible — like now!”

The work done by the performers and production staff will have a direct impact on the final script and telling of the story in this audio drama.

“Playwriting is always a collaboration,” Falco said. “The first drafts of any new play will typically be rewritten in ways minor or more significant as the actors, director, and various stage and sound designers work toward the first production.”

As to the play’s relevance, Falco had this to say: “‘The Cretans’ is a play, in part, about a culture in the chaotic moments of transition. That feels relevant as our own contemporary culture struggles toward the birth of something new. As we work to dismantle patriarchy in our own time, it might be relevant to explore, imaginatively, how patriarchy overthrew matriarchy in a distant, prehistorical moment.”

“The Cretans” will stream free with the following schedule (follow this link to register):

Oct. 2: Part I at 8 p.m.
Oct. 9: Part II at 8 p.m. (with Part I available at 7:30 pm)
Oct. 16: Part III at 8 p.m. (with Part I available at 7 p.m. and Part II at 7:30 p.m.)

If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, please contact Susan Sanders in advance of the event.

Written by Anna Wehr, a graduate student in arts leadership in the School of Performing Arts