Dionysus (Toga)

''Lead me guides, where my sisters wait, poor sisters of my exile. Let me go where I shall never see Cithaeron more, where that accursed hill may not see me, where I shall find no trace of thyrsus! That I leave to other Bacchae." -Agave

Consciousness is a prison, and the walls of the prison are history. History emrges out of the relationship between the spirit off exuberant communal unity and the spirit of isolated alienated individuality. These two modes of being form the two poles at either end of the arch of spiritual history. . .

The phenomenon of processing experience into stories or narratives has always played an important role in human life. Whether in the form of myths, legends, fairy tales or histories a ''story'' in this sense is any agreed upon grouping of infoformation or feelings within a given community. Indeed, stories are the very element of cohesion bringing together and spiritually unifying individuals into communities. They can also give structure and form to rebellion against a community, and provide a way to deal with communal oppression. Stories in some form or another seem to be necessary for any group to justify itself. Some stories exist within the group consciously as stories, mythologies, old wives' tales, etc., and their role in the society is relatively obvious. But it is possible to put more subtle entitles such as ideologies, belief systems, and even history itself into the realm of stones, and see that these things function in the same way. .

The persistence of the story phenomenon is a strong line running throughout the history of mankind and has always found its strongest manifestation in the form of religion. Indeed this use of story has saved, or given hope to, countless people, but it turns as easily into a tool for oppression. Story is a sword with two edges. Both the attraction towards the comfortand cohesion offered by stories, and the will to rebel against the repression that results, are withing us as individuals as well as within mankind as a whole.

In order to fulfill their function as the unifying element for a group, stories require a sacrifice. A scapegoat. There needs to be a focal point for the unified energy of the community, and an individual or group of individuals, to be the victim standing in the focal point. This provides for the scapegoat, either a motivation for the creation of a new story, and a new group, or it provides the shock that ejects the victim out of the fold of story into the world of the isolated individual.

Euripides' ''The Bacchae'' shows the process by which individuals are "scapegoated out'' of
the narrative world. Agave, in her moment of realization, when she sees that the head in her
hand is that of her son, perceives with devastating clarity that she and her son are the scapegoats.
At this point she makes the trans-historic leap out of the world of classical narrative. She leaves her world and begins the journey towards the opposite pole.

"Dionysus" focuses on how both the passionate belief in the group values of the story, and the doubting of those values, are contained within "The Bacchae." Both sides of this dichotomy are presented on stage simultaneously. A dramatic coexistence of opposites. A compelling juxtaposition. There are in fact, two "worlds" in the universe of "Dionysus." The first and most obvious is the world of classical narrative, a world peopled by enthusiastically passionate devotees of the god Dionysus, living thier story with total commitment. The distance between what they say and what they do is annihilated by the clarity of their shared goals and values. They speak words that are actions.

Interwoven with this world is the negative image of narrative. People who have droped out of the "story," wandering aimlessly in wheelchairs. T hey speak words that have no direct relevance to themselves or their situation. Group identity, whether it be religious or political and its need for a scapegoat, is the central current of human history. The wheelchairs are a manifestation of the desire to divorce one's self from this story of history's mainstream. The will to dispense with the past, and get out from under the weight of memory. When an exiled Agave leaves her world, she has joined the wheelchairs.

It is important to note that, although Euripides has Dionysus appear on stage and speak lines as a character, in "Dionysus" the god's words are assigned to a group of priests. The interpretation here is that the god Dionysus never existed as such rather a group with a communal need for unity and the will to be spiritually influence the masses created a "story" called "Dionysus." The conflict between Dionysus and Pentheus is not a oottle between god and man. It is an altercation between a religious sect and political authority. A drama of conflict between two communal value systems that exist on the same plane. A horizontal, rather than a vertical, conflict. The aim here is not to stage Euripides' play, but to use Euripides' play to stage my world view. - Tadashi Suzuki

Works Performed