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“On one level, my play recounts the life of a woman–of many women–from bewildered bride to sorely tested wife to overburdened old age. On another level it is a wildly romantic story of gods and men, of death and hell and resurrection, of great loves and great trials, of usurpation and revenge. On another level, however, it is a comedy about a very serious matter... Yet I am aware of other levels, and perhaps deeper ones that will only become apparent to me later.” -Thornton Wilder
(Music composed by Sara Galassini)
The struggle between Apollo and Death is the framework of Wilder’s “Alcestiad", and the inspiration for this image by world renowned artist Luba Lukova. One ray of Apollo's light has broken the wall that surrounds Death's kingdom, making it possible for Apollo to bring back from the dead those who have given their lives in love of others.
Lukova’s evocative images are included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Denver Art Museum; Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris; Hong Kong Heritage Museum; Centre de la Gravure et de l'Image imprimée, La Louvière, Belgium; the Library of Congress; and the World Bank, Washington, D.C. They have appeared in major newspapers and journals including the New York Times.
Synopsis of The Alcestiad and The Drunken Sisters (based on an overview by Thomas Buck)
Act I This is the wedding day of King Admetus and Alcestis. Apollo and Death meet, and Apollo states that he is going to teach Death a lesson. Alcestis confides to Aglaia that she is reluctant to marry because she feels called to be a priestess of Apollo. Teiresias arrives from Delphi with four herdsmen, announcing that they will serve Admetus for one year, and that among them is Apollo in disguise. Admetus nobly offers to release Alcestis from their engagement, but the herdsman has convinced her that her marriage is Apollo’s will, and she now directs her full devotion to Admetus.
Act II Twelve years after the wedding, King Admetus is facing death. A message from Delphi revealing that he can escape his current fate if someone else dies in his place. Alcestis immediately offers herself, without consulting Admetus. Hercules pays a visit just at the point of Alcestis’ death. He resolves to rescue Alcestis from Death.
Act III Twelve years later. A plague has struck Thessaly. The citizens turn to their new tyrant King Agis for help, but he has barricaded himself in the palace. Apollo and Death return, and Apollo informs an agitated Death that he can never take Alcestis. Epimenes, the son of Admetus and Alcestis, arrives accompanied by his friend Cheriander to kill Agis. They are turned away by Alcestis, whom they do not recognize at first. Agis himself emerges, and tries to blame Alcestis for the plague. His self-absorption is broken by the death of his own daughter and Alcestis counsels him with the wisdom she has learned through accepting her own adversity.
The satyr play, a comic epilogue. Apollo gets the three Fates drunk in comic fashion and extracts their promise to spare Admetus. The Fates realize the trick and reveal that someone must die in Admetus’ stead. Apollo immediately foresees Alcestis’ sacrifice and flees the stage.
Magis is an actor-driven company, training together for over fifteen years. We bridge our craft with education and performance, taking on challenging theatrical pieces. We bring original work, classical texts, and forgotten literary gems to the classroom and the stage. Recognized by the press for our artistic skill and daring, our unique method of actor training has inspired professional artists across the globe, and in the NY Theatre community.
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New York Times
“seekers and tellers of the truth” A.C. Lee
New York Times
“Visually appealing… artful staging.” Rachel Saltz
New York Times