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“An Iliad” spins a classic to modern times


A modern-day interpretation of “The Iliad” at Syracuse Stage connects the decade-long Trojan War and the siege of Troy that’s depicted in Homer’s poem to conflicts of today.

The tale of “An Iliad” at Syracuse Stage, which begins Wednesday and runs through June 9, is told by “the poet,” played by Joseph Graves. The play is told in today’s vernacular. Producers say the 100-minute “turbulent adventure” asks the question: “What has really changed since the Trojan War?”

Throughout the show, the poet makes multiple comparisons to contemporary society and invites the audience to imagine how traumatic the ancient battle and siege of Troy by the ancient Greeks was.

The poet appears disheveled and admits he has been “singing his story” for years. His account of the Trojan War starts with the arrival of hundreds of ships into the city of Troy and centers around the great warrior Achilles, his enemy Agamemnon and best friend Patroclus.

“When we look into the eyes of those living who have known the reality of war, words fail,” director Penny Metropulos said in a press release. “This is where poetry enters.”

Ms. Metropulos and Mr. Graves previously collaborated on “An Iliad” for Portland (Oregon) Center Stage in Oregon in 2010. The Seattle Times called it “Intimate, unstuffy, timely and accessible.”

Syracuse Stage patrons may recall Mr. Graves from his performance as abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko in last season’s production of “Red.” He is the artistic director of Peking University’s Institute of World Theatre and Film in Beijing, China.

“An Iliad” was co-written by Denis O’Hare and Lisa Peterson.

It will be staged in the Arthur Storch Theatre with an “avenue” seating configuration. Two banks of seating flank opposite sides of the performance space, creating an up-close experience that will feel like a performance-in-the-round.

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A lobby exhibit in Storch Theatre sponsored by the Onondaga Historical Association will highlight local stories about American wars, including the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Civil War, World War I and the Korean War.

There also will be a photo exhibit by Stacy Pearsall an award-winning war photographer and Iraq War veteran.

the details
WHAT: Syracuse Stage presents ‘An Iliad’ adapted from Homer by Denis O’Hare and Lisa Peterson.
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday, May 18, 2 p.m. May 19, 7:30 p.m. May 22 and 23, 8 p.m. May 24, 3 and 8 p.m. May 25, 2 p.m. May 26, 7:30 p.m. May 28, 29 and 30, 8 p.m. May 31, 3 and 8 p.m. June 1, 2 and 7 p.m. June 2, 7:30 p.m. June 4, 2 and 7:30 p.m. June 5, 7:30 p.m. June 6, 8 p.m. June 7, 3 and 8 p.m. June 8 and 2 p.m. June 9.
WHERE: Arthur Storch Theatre at the Syracuse Stage/Syracuse University Drama Theatre complex, 820 E. Genesee St.
COST: Tickets are $30 to $51 for adults, $30 for those 40 and under and $18 for those age 18 and under. They can be purchased online at or by calling the box office at 443-9844.
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