HOME > Season Archives > 2009 - 2010 > Seven Against Thebes


Seven Against Thebes

Directed by Charlie Oates

@ Mandell Weiss FORUM Theatre

May 13 - 22

About the Play

Charlie Oates directs Professor Marianne McDonald's translaltion of Aeschylus' epic tale of Oedipus' two sons pitted against each other over control of the kingdom of Thebes in this classic award-winning play on the morality of war, messy family dysfunction, and questions of right and wrong.

About the Playwright

Aeschylus by Marianne McDonald, PhD. MRIA
There were three major tragic playwrights in fifth-century Athens: Aeschylus (ca. 525-456 BC), seven of whose plays survive out of approximately eighty; Sophocles (ca. 496-406 BC), with seven plays surviving out of approximately one hundred and twenty-three; and Euripides (ca. 480-ca. 406 BC), with nineteen out of approximately ninety.

Aeschylus is the father of Greek tragedy. Large issues and the splendor of his choruses characterize his drama. He utilizes spectacle to advantage, coupling it with equally spectacular poetic words. His trilogies show divine justice being administered over generations. We know this, not from the trilogies themselves— because his Oresteia is the only trilogy of all Greek tragedy that has survived—but from the plots of his extant plays. It would appear that before Aeschylus there was just one actor and a chorus in each play, since, according to Aristotle (384-22 BC), he had added a second and that Sophocles added a third, creating more possibilities for interchange and conflict.

Aeschylus lived during the glorious period of the Persian Wars (490-89 BC and 480-79 BC) when the invading Persians were defeated. He fought at Salamis and Marathon, as evidenced by his epitaph, which commemorates him though as a soldier and not as a playwright. He did not live to see the end of the inglorious Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC), which came about as a reaction by Sparta and other former allies to the expansion of the Athenian empire. It is likely that he came from a distinguished family. He was invited by Hieron, the ruler of Syracuse, in Sicily, to visit him, and he wrote his Women of Etna on the occasion of Hieron's founding of the city of Etna. His plays were esteemed for their inspirational and educational value so much that in Aristophanes' Frogs (405 BC), the god Dionysus brings Aeschylus back from the dead so that the Athenians can enjoy good drama once more. Aristophanes (450?-386? BC) also says that whoever sees Aeschylus’ Seven Against Thebes is anxious to become a warrior (Frogs, 1021-22); Aeschylus himself claims that his Seven Against Thebes is "full of Ares,” the Greek god of war.
(In writing this introduction, I have consulted and in places paraphrased, and in others copied, from my The Living Art of Greek Tragedy (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2003). Copyright 2007.

About the Director

Charlie Oates previously directed Heart of A Dog, 10 Human Beings, Not Them and La Ronde for UC San Diego. He has performed his original theatre pieces at theatres and festivals around the world and has been a guest artist and teacher in many leading actor-training programs in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Senegal, Sweden, and Beijing, China.

About the Translator

MARIANNE McDONALD, Professor of Theatre and Classics in the Department of Theatre at the University of California, San Diego, a member of the Royal Irish Academy, and a recipient of many national and international awards, including Greece’s Order of the Phoenix (1994) and Italy’s Golden Aeschylus Award (1998), many honorary degrees from Greece and Ireland; and San Diego Women’s Hall of Fame (2008).

She is the founder and initiator of projects to computerize Greek literature (Thesaurus Linguae Graecae) and Irish Literature (Thesaurus Linguae Hibernicae). She is a pioneer in the field of modern versions of the classics: in films, plays, and opera. With about 250 publications, in addition to her articles and book chapters, her published books include: Euripides in Cinema: The Heart Made Visible (Centrum Press, 1983), Ancient Sun, Modern Light: Greek Drama on the Modern Stage (Columbia University Press, 1992); Sing Sorrow: Classics, History and Heroines in Opera (Greenwood, 2001); and The Living Art of Greek Tragedy (Indiana University Press, 2003); with J. Michael Walton: Amid Our Troubles: Irish Versions of Greek Tragedies (Methuen, 2002); and The Cambridge Companion to Greek and Roman Theatre (2007).

Her performed translations (three a year since 1999 nationally and internationally with many published) include: Sophocles’ Antigone, dir. Athol Fugard in Ireland (1999); Trojan Women (2000 and 2009); Euripides’ Children of Heracles (2003); Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus and Oedipus at Colonus (2003-4); Euripides’ Hecuba, 2005, Sophocles’ Ajax, 2006, Euripides’ Iphigenia at Aulis and Bacchae, 2006; and 2007 and 2009; Euripides’ Phoenician Women, 2009); Medea (2007); Seneca’s Thyestes (2008) and with J. Michael Walton Aeschylus’ Oresteia and Aristophanes’ Frogs (2007); Helen (2008); versions and other works : The Trojan Women (2000); Medea, Queen of Colchester (2003), The Ally Way (2004); …and then he met a woodcutter (San Diego Critics’ Circle: Best New Play of 2005), Medea: The Beginning, performed with Athol Fugard’s Jason: The End (2006); The Last Class (2007); Fires in Heaven (2009), and A Taste for Blood (2010).


Translator's Statement

This play is a warning against all wars, but most particularly those directed against neighbors. Many of these seem to have no end, just as the "troubles" in Ireland have gone on for hundreds of years. Likewise, the Shiite/Sunni conflict and the Israeli/Palestianian confrontation—and many others—are all between people who are close to each other but who have fanned the flames of hatred over years of bloodshed. When brother fights brother no one wins. This play shows how generation after generation can suffer from greed, a lust for power, and a mentalitly that embraces vengeance. Will this finally destroy the entire human race? Ancient Greek tragedy may be all too prophetic of our own future.




Thu, May 13, 7:00 pm   PREVIEW
Fri, May 14, 8:00 pm   OPENING
Sat, May 15, 2:00 pm   MATINEE
Sat, May 15, 8:00 pm    
Thu, May 20, 8:00 pm    
Fri, May 21, 8:00 pm    
Sat, May 22, 8:00 pm   CLOSING

Located at: Mandell Weiss FORUM Theatre

Parking Passes Required: Monday through Friday. Weeknight passes are $2 per vehicle from the vending machines located in the UC San Diego Theatre District/La Jolla Playhouse parking lots and entry display case. Please remember your parking space number. You will need it to purchase your parking pass.

Note: Machines take all major credit cards except Discover and when paying with cash you must use exact change, NO CHANGE GIVEN.

Parking Passes Not Required: Saturdays and Sundays


Cars without permits are subject to ticketing by UCSD Campus Police. The Theatre & Dance Department does not have the authority to waive and cannot pay parking tickets.



Advance tickets for this production are available Monday-Friday, noon to 6 pm by calling the Box Office at 858.534.4574 or in person at the Theatre District’s Central Box Office at the Sheila & Hughes Potiker Theatre. 

At-the-Door tickets, if available, can be purchased one hour before show time at the performing theatre’s box office at the Mandell Weiss FORUM Theatre. 


General Admission


UCSD Faculty/Staff/Alumni
Association, and Seniors (over 62)


UCSD Students (with ID)


*Preview performance on Thursday, May 13th at 7:00 pm is offered at the reduced ticket prices of $15/$10/$8.


Production Photos

Photos by Manuel Rotenberg


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