After their father's death, the children of Herakles are exiled from their home by a hostile regime. They flee from country to country in search of sanctuary, finding every border closed to them. Euripides' twenty-four-hundred-year-old investigation of the plight of refugees could have been written this morning.
When Herakles dies, his children and mother flee their home and the persecution of the tyrant Eurystheus, and seek sanctuary near Athens. The Athenians are at first reluctant to grant them asylum, since the family of the great demigod may bring political and military strife on the city, but Demophon, King of Athens, agrees to admit them.
Eurystheus's forces surround the city, and an oracle announces that the safety of Athens depends on the sacrifice of a virgin. Herakles's daughter Macaria offers herself as a sacrificial victim. Eurystheus is captured, and Herakles's aged mother Alkmene insists that he be put to death. Demophon explains that this would be a breach of Athenian honor, but Alkmene insists on retribution for the wrongs the tyrant has done her family.
PROGRAM - The Children of Herakles is a two-part event:
Discussion and Testimony (approximately 45 minutes)
Broadcaster and journalist Christopher Lydon engages an eminent policy maker, refugee expert, or scholar. Refugees from the Boston area then give testimony on their experiences in coming to the United States, moderated by Lydon. See schedule of speakers and films (pdf format).
- short coffee break -
Performance of Euripides'
The Children of Herakles (110 minutes)
Half-hour break for food and conversation
with cast members and panelists
Film (approx. one hour, after evening performances only)
To provide an artistic response to the current crisis, one of a series of films made in countries that are generating large numbers of refugees is shown each evening, and ticket holders are welcome to attend any screening. Series curated by the Harvard Film Archive, with additional films at the H.F.A.'s cinema on Quincy Street in Harvard Square. See descriptions of films and schedule of speakers and films (pdf format).
Playback post-show discussions after every Saturday matinee, moderated by Peter Sellars with Robert Woodruff and/or Gideon Lester.
The premiere of this production was produced by the Ruhr-Triennale on September 19, 2002—Gerard Mortier, Artistic Director.
From the English Translation, The Complete Greek Tragedies, Grene & Lattimore, eds., published by The University of Chicago Press. Produced by permission of the publisher.