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Gilgamesh on Stage at the Bushwick

January 23, 2011

Blogcritics.org has a review of Immortal: The Gilgamesh Variations

The wooden staircase you climb to get to the Bushwick Starr theater has more character than some entire plays. You’re rewarded for the climb—through January 30, anyway—with a strenuous, rewarding journey through the ancient Sumerian-Akkadian Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the earliest works of literature in history. Sumerian legends told of a semi-divine hero-king, Gilgamesh, who tyrannized his subjects in the city of Uruk until they pleaded with the gods for help. In response they created Enkidu, a primitive man of great strength who lived in the forest with the beasts until being seduced by a temple harlot into coming to Uruk to be a companion to Gilgamesh.

What is most interesting to me about this production is the rotating choice of actors for Gilgamesh: “A different actor plays Gilgamesh in each ‘tablet,’ all ably, while Enkidu remains in the sure hands of the very physical actor who goes by the name of Eugene the Poogen.” In the actual traditions, both Gilgamesh and Enkidu’s roles change as the tale developed, though Gilgamesh seems to have undergone more revision—especially if you take Tzvi Abusch’s understanding of the three different Gilgameshs in the Akkadian epic.

(HT: PaleoJudaica)

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