Number of pages: 146
Date of publication: 2015
Modern-day Easter is derived from two ancient traditions: one Judeo-Christian and the other Pagan. Both Christians and Pagans have celebrated death and resurrection themes following the Spring Equinox for millennia. Most religious historians believe that many elements of the established order.
In 2002 BBC Radio 3 commissioned a sequence of plays from writer Andrew Rissik to be broadcast in the run-up to Easter 2004. In these separate but thematically-linked 90-minute dramas Rissik presents three stories of confrontations between the forces of change and the established order.
The first play Dionysos – which starred Paul Scofield, Diana Rigg, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Toby Stephens – is based partly on the story told by Euripides in The Bacchae; but also, on the work of Ovid (who retold the story in his poem Metamorphoses) and on the pervading influence of the mystery cult of Dionysos, which according to scholars was a powerful spiritual force in the life of the Roman Empire at the time of Christ’s birth in Judaea.
This first volume also includes Andrew Rissik’s monologue Jocasta, broadcast by BBC Radio 3 in 2003 to accompany a Proms performance of Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex.
This play is now also available on Amazon Audible with its original cast at https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Myths-Reimagined-Troy-Trilogy-Dionysos-More-Audiobook/1529143772.
Andrew Rissik is a British scriptwriter, arts journalist and critic best known for the BBC Radio 3 trilogy, Troy and the five-part thriller serial for Radio 4, The Psychedelic Spy.
He was born in 1955, educated at Harrow and Christ Church, Oxford, where he took a Double First in English in 1977. After a short period as a junior academic, he moved to London in 1979, where he taught part time, worked as a script reader for the BBC and contributed to many newspapers and magazines, including Time Out, The New Statesman and The Times.
In 1983 he published a book on the films of Sean Connery, The James Bond Man. He was theatre critic at The Independent from 1986 to 1988, and from 1999 to 2001 a lead book reviewer for The Guardian. His full time writing and journalistic career came to an end in 1988 when he was diagnosed with M.E., from which he still suffers.
Most of his dramatic work has been done for BBC Radio Drama, although a tv play was broadcast by Thames in 1981. Blue Pacific Island (Radio 4 1985) was followed by the trilogy A Man Alone in 1986 (the first part of which won a Giles Cooper Award), and by a five-part thriller The Psychedelic Spy in 1990. King Priam, a one-hour account of the Trojan war starring Paul Scofield, was broadcast in 1987 and led to a four-and-a-half-hour, three-play development of the subject, Troy, which won wide acclaim a decade later on BBC Radio 3 in 1998.
“Dionysos … a play that suggested that the world might have a use for things of the soul.”
Benedict Nightingale, The Times
“A stunning and provocative new play…”
Adam Thorpe, The Guardian
“If the play had been just 20 minutes shorter it would have been devastating and we would have felt, as with the original, we had experienced a drama which Said It All.”
Nick Lezzard, Independent on Sunday
“This is a provocative drama for Easter Sunday and one that has added resonance in the light of recent law and order crises in Iraq.”
Stephanie Billen, The Observer
“A stimulating double bill concerned with personal conscience and ultimate loyalties.“
unsigned preview, The Sunday Telegraph
“In certain places and at certain times, then, people have evidently used Bacchae to think about globalization and related matters. It is also clear that Bacchae can be adapted into a new play about almost any ideological conflict one can imagine. One first-rate adaptation of recent times was Andrew Rissik’s intelligent, well-written and impeccably acted BBC radio drama, Dionysos (broadcast 2003). In Dionysos, the first play in a trilogy about the roots of Christianity, Rissik advances a clear, compelling agenda. Starting from the premise that Dionysos was a proto-Christ and that Dionysos’ cult was a real religion with real adherents, he frames Bacchae as a play about God. In that respect, Dionysos resembles Jean Cocteau’s Bacchus (1951). But whereas Cocteau takes Bacchae as intertext, Rissik uses it as hypotext. With unfashionable conviction and considerable intellectual heft, Dionysos meets Euripides on his own pre-modern terms.”
The Gentle, Jealous God: Reading Euripides’ Bacchae in English (Bloomsbury, 2016) by Simon Perris, Senior Lecturer in Classics at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand