A retelling of the ancient epic of Gilgamesh
Created and developed by Lisa Channer with Adrian Jones (scenic design), Kira Obolensky (text), Vincent Olivieri (sound design) and with multimedia design by Daniel Vatsky, costume design by Annie Katsura-Rollins, and light design by Robert Perry.
The Oldest Story in the World brings top video and theater designers from New York, Los Angeles, Miami and Minneapolis together with playwright Kira Obolensky and some of the Twin Cities’ most dynamic physical actors including Barbra Berlovitz, Julianna Drajko, Erik Hoover, Billy Mullaney, Stephen Pearce, Vladimir Rovinsky, Dario Tangelson, Vanessa Voskuil and Jeanne Willcoxon.
“I’ve been working on this project for six years now with the goal to make a high powered performance that tells the ancient tale of Gilgamesh while also speaking to our contemporary moment,” said director Lisa Channer. “Audiences who see The Oldest Story in the World will be treated to an evening of physical theater full of adventure, live music, lots of heart and a really great story. And in case you need more we also offer monsters, floods, sexy gods and goddesses, stolen antiquities, magic potions, falling sand, time travel and giant scorpions.”
About the Epic
The Epic of Gilgamesh, called “Humanity’s First Story,” was carved into 11 clay tablets nearly three millennia ago around 1700 BCE—a thousand years before The Iliad. Unknown until 1853 when the tablets were discovered in Nineveh, its cuniform language remained un-translated for some 40 odd years until the end of the 19th century. Based on a historical King who reigned in Uruk (present day Iraq) the story of Gilgamesh and his companion Enkidu is well known. Their intimate friendship and their various heroic adventures together (including attacking the monster Humbaba, rebuking Ishtar, and killing the Bull of Heaven), are followed by Enkidu’s tragic death. The result is a grief-induced obsession with finding the key to immortality that takes Gilgamesh to places no human is meant to see.
Novi Most’s adaptation is both a reliving of the great story of Gilgamesh and an examination of human limits as we experience them here and now. At the center of the story are essential questions of how to define, and live, a human life.
Our Gilgamesh “drops in” on contemporary wall street in crisis, the sexually charged relationship between Gilgamesh and Enkidu in ancient Uruk, the Sumerian underworld (containing mythic beasts, rivers of death and the worlds first bar tender), the study of Victorian archaeologist George Smith who first transcribed Gilgamesh (and the true story of how he took off all his clothes when he did so), and the contemporary world of oil spills, military incursions, floods and droughts where we live out the themes of this ancient epic, subconsciously and daily…
A fusion of original music and invigorating physical theatre, this project resurrects a long ago “time before time” letting it pulse and live in front of us, reminding us of truths about ourselves we’ve perhaps forgotten.