OMA's Prometheus

The studio's scenography for the Greek Theatre in Syracuse has been unveiled with the performance of Aeschylus' Prometheus Unbound. The set design features a scenic circular device which completes and multiplies the amphitheatre.

For the fourth consecutive season, the Greek Theatre in Syracuse commissions an architect with the scenography of its series of classical plays. In 2009, Studio Fuksas reinstated the custom established almost a hundred years ago by Duilio Cambelotti, and this year, OMA was commissioned to design the sets for the summer's program of classical plays. A scenic circular device, which completes and multiplies the amphitheatre, will be used for the cycle of three plays: Aeschylus' Prometheus Unbound, Euripides' Bacchae, and Aristophane's The Birds. The program runs through 30 June.

OMA's interventions will be dramatically exploited and adapted at strategic moments within this summer's cycle of plays staged by the Istituto Nazionale del Dramma Antico. The scenography features three temporary architectural devices that reinterpret the spaces of the theatre, which dates from the 5th century BCE.

The first intervention, the Ring, is a suspended walkway that completes the semi-circle of the terraced seating, encompassing the stage and the backstage, and giving actors an alternative way of entering the scene.
OMA, set design for <em>Prometheus Unbound</em>, Greek Theatre in Syracuse
OMA, set design for Prometheus Unbound, Greek Theatre in Syracuse
The Machine is a fully adaptable backdrop for the plays: a sloping circular platform, seven metres high, mirroring the amphitheatre. The backdrop can rotate, symbolizing the passage of 13 centuries during Prometheus's torture; split down the middle, it can also be opened, allowing the entrance of the actors, and symbolizing dramatic events like Prometheus being swallowed into the bowels of the earth.

The Raft, a circular stage for the actors and dancers, reimagines the orchestra space as a modern thymele, the altar that in ancient times was dedicated to Dionysian rites.
OMA, set design for <em>Prometheus Unbound</em>, Greek Theatre in Syracuse
OMA, set design for Prometheus Unbound, Greek Theatre in Syracuse
The Greek Theatre scenography — executed by AMO, the unit within OMA dedicated to non-architectural and transient projects — is part of the office's long history of designing performance spaces, from the Netherlands Dance Theatre (1987) and the Wyly Theatre in Dallas (with Rex, 2009), to the Taipei Performing Arts Centre — three adaptable theatres plugged into a central cube, now under construction in Taiwan. AMO has also designed scenography for ephemeral events such as Prada catwalk shows and Francesco Vezzoli's 24-Hour Museum in Paris earlier this year.

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