Coal Mine Theatre’s Dion: A Rock Opera leans into Greek ideology

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Dion: A Rock Opera, centered on Euripides’s The Bacchae, was co-developed by the company’s co-founder Ted Dykstra, pictured listed here in 2018, and Prince Edward Island poet/novelist Steven Mayoff.Fred Lum/The World and Mail

For the first time in its 10-12 months background, Toronto’s Coal Mine Theatre provides a earth premiere. Dion: A Rock Opera, primarily based on Euripides’s The Bacchae, was co-created by the company’s co-founder Ted Dykstra and Prince Edward Island poet/novelist Steven Mayoff.

Dion begins previews Feb. 4, opens Feb. 8, and operates through March 3. All through a crack in rehearsals, Dykstra spoke to The World and Mail about rock operas, angels with significant pockets and tragedies that are timeless.

You wrote the new music to Dion and your friend and extensive-time collaborator Steven Mayoff wrote the e book. Why the option of Peter Hinton-Davis as director?

He’s form of avant-garde, and deeply experienced about Greek tragedy, Roman record and all all those issues. He’s a wizard, definitely – his personal Google, simply because he has these kinds of a fantastic expertise of it. I sent him the recordings of the songs. He responded right absent and in a constructive way. From there it was a issue of acquiring it appropriately.

Which means funding?

Of course, revenue. Coal Mine has hardly acquired grants. We acquired 1 from the Canada Arts Council for working costs. Because of that, dollars was launched that we had been able to commit on a workshop for Dion. A 12 months afterwards we did a different workshop, which would not have been probable with out dollars from Gary Slaight and the Slaight Spouse and children Basis.

Gary Slaight is a rock and roll dude from way back again.

He’s why we ended up able to do this present. There’s no way we can market more than enough tickets to pay for it. We essential angels, and Gary Slaight was that angel who built this feasible.

You have a historical past with the tale from The Bacchae, is that right?

Sure, a creation of The Bacchae at Stratford Festival in 1993. I was Pentheus. And Colm Feore was Dionysus. I try to remember thinking then how well timed it was and it’s just stayed with me this whole time.

What is the charm of presenting the story in 2024?

It’s a story that would not have to have variety shoved into it. In The Bacchae originally it was women who left culture since they didn’t like this right-wing modern society. In this output, it is expanded to the queer group and to the transgender neighborhood and the racial community. These individuals who don’t like, for case in point, Donald Trump’s The united states, and go away to go into the hills and observe this creature who promises to be a 50 percent a god, and get substantial and get ecstatic and dance.

Could we see Canada as the hills Us citizens are fleeing to?

1 hundred for every cent. We’re not accomplishing a person of people plays in which anyone is impersonating Trump or something like that. But it’s just obvious when you see it, the parallels involving 2,500 many years and now. It just exhibits that human beings definitely have not adjusted that a lot. More to that, the matter I adore about the tale is that it is saying that if the two sides can not are living facet by aspect, we won’t have a healthful society. This is a very Greek suitable. We will need the two the brain and the heart. We need to have both of those the still left and the suitable, and we want them not change the other. That’s the heart of this rock opera, and it’s at the heart of the whole earth correct now.

Did you see Hawksley Workman’s The God That Will come, a rock cabaret also based mostly on The Bacchae?

I did not. I would have liked to. But naturally Hawksley has the same link that I do in terms of this perception that this story is of value ideal now.

You also share the belief that the story can be advised through rock tunes. Why is Dion a sung-while rock opera?

The rock opera is likely 1 of the hardest issues to do correct. There is fairly a graveyard full of failed rock operas. But I transpire to be actually linked to Tommy by Pete Townshend and the Who. As a kid I had the authentic album. There is a thing about it that it does not need exposition the way a play needs exposition. You really don’t have to reveal anything. Even in typical opera, points are a offered – you are in this globe and it exists otherwise. It is far more about the emotion of the audio and exactly where you’re likely with it. When you come out, you remember a human likely by means of one thing, but you do not automatically chat about the plot. I have always responded to it.

You ended up in the Toronto manufacturing of Tommy in 1995 weren’t you?

Sure. There I was six toes away from Pete Townshend, my idol, singing the Cousin Kevin job in an audition, and finding to meet Pete. I kissed his hand and explained to them I didn’t care if I got the section. I definitely just preferred to meet him. I ended up executing Cousin Kevin while, and hanging out with Pete for a pair of months. He was always all over throughout rehearsals. It was an outstanding time. So, rock operas have usually been near to my heart. I constantly cherished Jesus Christ Superstar as properly.

The first Tommy and Jesus Christ Celebrity albums each came out in 1969. The assure of the rock opera as a genre hasn’t been precisely fulfilled.

It is a genre that could use some more results, granted. But I’m very psyched about this. Will individuals in 2024 answer to it? We’re about to come across out.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Editor’s notice: A past variation of this post mentioned improperly that Ted Dykstra and Steven Mayoff had beforehand collaborated on the musical comedy 2 Pianos 4 Arms. This edition has been current.

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