Explore the history behind Oedipus Rex, its dramaturgy, and the design of Court Theatre’s production.
- About the Playwright
- Sophocles was born in 496 BCE, in Colonus, a small village near Athens, Greece. He was one of the three great tragic playwrights, along with Aeschylus and Euripides. Sophocles received an exceptional education and was considered to be handsome, athletic and musically talented, thus giving him opportunities to be actively involved in his community. There are few known facts about Sophocles life, but he is generally assumed to have been wealthy from birth, highly connected to Athens religion and government, and noted for his grace and charm. Sophocles wrote 123 tragedies for the Dionysian dramatic festivals. Playwrights usually wrote four plays for each festival, whereas Sophocles competed about 30 times, with around 24 victories. Alas, only seven of Sophocles’s plays survived in their entirety. Sophocles was the first Greek playwright to include more than two actors in his plays, which allowed him to include more characters and conflicts in his plays. Read a more detailed biography of Sophocles here, courtesy of UPenn.
- About the Translator
- Nicholas Rudall (1940 – 2018) was the Founding Artistic Director of Court Theatre, having led the theatre from 1971 to 1994. He led the growth of Court from a community theatre to a leading professional Equity theatre. In addition to his achievements as an actor and director, Rudall was a Professor Emeritus in Classics at the University of Chicago, where he taught for over forty years. His translations for the theatre—known for their stage-friendly language and “playability”—are myriad and span many languages, but he is best known for his translations of ancient Greek tragedy.
The Dramaturgical Team for Oedipus Rex – comprised of Gabrielle Randle-Bent, Emma Pauly, and Ella Wilhelm – compiled and created a number of rich, in-depth articles to offer crucial context and scaffolding for this production. Check them out below!
- Lineage and Timelines
- Family Tree (by Emma Pauly)
- Character Biographies (by Emma Pauly)
- Laius (by Emma Pauly)
- Untangling the Plot of Oedipus Rex – Timelines (by Ella Wilhelm)
- Offstage and Onstage Action in Oedipus Rex (by Ella Wilhelm)
- Across the Sea (by Emma Pauly)
- On the House of Cadmus and the Spirit of Change (by Emma Pauly)
- Gods, Prophecies, and Curses
- The Gods (by Emma Pauly)
- A Complete Accounting of All Prophecies Delivered by the Oracle of Delphi Concerning the Fate of Oedipus (by Emma Pauly)
- The Pharmakos, Curses and Pollution (by Emma Pauly)
- He Who Never Misses His Mark, He Who Burns, He Who Preserves: An Expansion On Apollo (by Emma Pauly)
- Dark-Taloned Maidens: An Explication of the Theban Sphinx and the Furies (by Emma Pauly)
- Greek Theatre
- On Sophocles (by Emma Pauly)
- The Kommos: I’m Stressed, You’re Stressed, Let’s Sing About It (by Emma Pauly)
- On Testimony – From Law to Religion (by Ella Wilhelm)
- Emma Yells in Ancient Greek (by Emma Pauly)
- Creating the World of Oedipus Rex: We interviewed Scenic Designer John Culbert about his approach to creating the set for Oedipus Rex.
- Power and Symbolism: Designing the Costumes of Oedipus Rex: We interviewed costume designer Jacqueline Firkins to learn more about her approach to designing Oedipus Rex. Find out how her choices support the storytelling.
- Lighting and All-White Set: An Interview with Keith Parham: We talked with lighting designer Keith Parham to learn more about his approach to lighting the set for Oedipus Rex.