The King’s Pen: Revisiting a Royal Narrative

Called To Be King WidgetEytan Grinnell sits in the house of the Lyceum Space Theatre, watching a rehearsal of his new play, Called to Be King. Todd Salovey, his dramaturg, sits nearby, pencil in hand. They watch as a cast of 11 deliver the lines that have been floating around in Eytan’s imagination for almost 15 years.

“After the first rehearsal, the terror went away,” says Eytan. “Now, it’s just awe.”

Called to Be King will be read on Tuesday evening at 7 pm, a special event produced by Intrepid and hosted by the Lyceum. The cast features Jacquelyn Ritz, Jason Maddy, Eric Poppick, Manny Fernandes, Patrick Duffy, Tiffany Tang, Tom Hall, Savvy Scopelleti, Erin Petersen, Marco Rios and Durwood Murray.

CTBK rehearsal“Bringing a new play to life is a fascinating process,” says Intrepid producing artistic director, Christy Yael-Cox, who will be directing the reading. “We’ve brought a talented cast together who have the ability to handle Eytan’s heightened language and bring this story to life.”

The plotline revolves around the retelling of the classic narratives that provide the origins of our storytelling history, specifically the biblical story of Noah and the Oedipus tragedy. Eytan’s reimagining involves invoking a stronger female presence in these stories, which, in turn, affects the outcome by introducing a more redemptive chain of events.

“These stories are the core of western civilization,” says Eytan. “We are pressing the button of these origin narratives.”

However innate these stories might be, the challenge in the retelling lies in accessing the audience’s present familiarity with the original narratives, something that Eytan has had to tackle in the writing. These stories may not be on the tip of everyone’s tongue they way they were when first presented. 

ctbk rehearsal 2“For a Greek audience 2500 years ago, this was known,” explains Eytan. “The myth was alive. But our characters also have the benefit and perspective of everything that has happened since then.”

But the fact that this set of characters have this knowledge makes them – and their decisions – that much more accessible.

“This play contains deliberate, consciousness-raising actions,” says Todd, clarifying the moments in the story that diverge from the traditional tales. It is these moments, he and Eytan agree, that change everything.

“This play is a movement of consciousness,” says Eytan. “We are not just going to stay in the unconscious and let the circumstances unfold.”

While the pivots of that consciousness revolve mainly around the strengthened female influence, the relatable questions that the Oedipus tale traditionally invokes are also still quite alive.

“The experience is universal because it ultimately rests on a question we all ask,” says Eytan. “Who am I? Where do I belong?” The audience is invited for a post-show talkback to shed some light on these timeless questions.

Called to Be King, by Eytan Grinnell. Dramaturgy by Todd Salovey. Directed by Christy Yael-Cox. Lyceum Space Theatre. 7 pm. $15. Purchase tickets online here.