Adapted and directed by Abigail Akavia with music by Matthew Hendershot

Premiere: March 2020, English Theatre Leipzig

Video: Jake Witter

A new English version of Sophocles’ Philoctetes, with an original musical score for three actors-soloists and a chorus of seven men and women.

Through language that ranges from colloquial to lyric, and contemporary music in genres including rock, folk, and gospel, this version reimagines the story of the heroic outcast, a man of colossal suffering and perseverance, caught in a net of lies spun by his former brothers-in-arms. The play’s fundamental conflict, between the needs of the individual and the community, is highlighted by the unique musical role of the chorus, a collective body of actor-singers, here performed by a multi-national cast.

My adaptation draws on the ancient script’s exploration of the interaction between the chorus and the protagonists to probe the group dynamics of ethical action and offer a new vision of tragedy as a collective art form. The excerpts above showcase my collaborative ‘choreographic’ approach towards creating contemporary works based on ancient tragedy. For more video excerpts click here.


Photos by Shira Bitan

Translated by Abigail Akavia

Music by Matthew Hendershot

Featuring: Felix Kerkhoff as Philoctetes, Emily Wessel as Neoptolemus, Laura Shann as Odysseus

Chorus members: Glenn Abel, Laura Albertz, Danny Coposescu, Yuval Gal Cohen, Julia Kragh, Letizia Rivera, Rafael Wolff

Vocal Director: Shira Bitan

Costume Design: Karin Brauner

Make up: Sophie Caws

Costume Assistant: Parwaneh Mirassan

Lights and Set Design: Peter Klippell

Lights and Set Assistant: Eshrat Kristina Nikrooye-Asli

Production team: Justin Sands, Jamie Grasse

The original musical score was composed by Matthew Hendershot, Ian Cox, Shira Bitan, Parwaneh Mirassan, and Abigail Akavia, and produced by Matthew Hendershot.