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Robert Abrams
Photo Essays
Martha Graham
The Joyce Theater
United States
New York City
New York
New York, NY

Night Journey - a photo essay

by Robert Abrams
January 29, 2003
The Joyce Theater
175 Eighth Avenue (at the corner of 19th Street)
New York, NY 10011

Night Journey

Photo essay by Robert Abrams
January 29, 2003

Choreography and costumes by Martha Graham
Music by William Schumann
Set by Isamu Noguchi
Original lighting by Jean Rosenthal
Adapted by Beverly Emmons

Premiere: May 3, 1947, Cambridge High School, Cambridge, Massachusetts

"And loudly o'er the bed she wailed where she
In twofold wedlock, hapless, had brought forth
Husband from a husband, children from a child.
We could not know the moment of her death
Which followed soon."
— Sophocles

In Greek mythology, Oedipus was the son of King Laius of Thebes and Queen Jocasta. At his birth, an oracle prophesied that he would murder his father and so he was abandoned on a desolate mountainside. He was found there and protected by a Corinthian shephard, and he grew to manhood as the adopted son of the King of Corinth. Again, an oracle predicted that Oedipus would slay his father and marry his mother. Thinking the King of Corinth his true father, he fled the city and in his wanderings met, quarreled with, and killed a stranger who was King Laius of Thebes. He went to Thebes, solved the riddle of the Sphinx and as a consequence became King and married Queen Jocasta. He was a noble king and reigned happily until a plague ravaged Thebes and the oracle declared that only the banishment of the murderer of Laius would relieve the city. The terrible truth of Oedipus' fate was brought to light by the seer Teiresias. Jocasta took her own life; Oedipus blinded himself and wandered the earth in misery.

In Martha Graham's Night Journey, it is not Oedipus but Jocasta who is the protagonist. The action turns upon that instant of Jocasta's death when she relives her destiny, sees with double insight the triumphal entry of Oedipus, their meeting, courtship, marriage, their years of intimacy which were darkly crossed by the blind seer Teiresias until at last the truth burst from him.

Dancers: Christine Dakin as Jocasta, Kenneth Topping as Oedipus, Gary Galbraith as Teiresias, Alessandra Prosperi as Leader, and Jennifer Conley, Erika Dankmeyer, Carrie Ellmore-Tallitsch, Catherine Lutton, Yuko Suzuki, and Blakeley White-McQuire as the Chorus.

The brief preview shown during the photo call suggests that this first season in quite some time of Martha Graham's works will be first rate, both in terms of the choreography and the individual performances. For more information, see www.marthagrahamdance.org or www.joyce.org. Get your tickets from the Joyce Theater while there are still tickets available.

For more on Martha Graham, read the interview with Ken Topping.

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