After 10 years of development, Alan Berks' Feast of Wolves will open this weekend as Workhaus Collective’s season opener. Berks started working on the original draft of the play in 2005, right as debate over the involvement of the United States in Iraq was deepening. “What is dinner like at the Donald Rumsfeld house?” Berks asked himself while writing.
A modernization of the Greek tragedies The Oresteia, Wolves focuses on a family at the center of an ongoing, perpetual war taking place far away. Typical of Workhaus plays, the show features some of the city’s best performers. Terry Hempleman and Charity Jones appear in the show, with Jay Eisenberg, seen earlier this year in Mixed Blood’s HIR, and others. “It’s an actor’s piece," says Jeremy Wilhelm, who is directing and designing the show. "Alan loves actors, and he gives them stuff to chew on.”
Wilhelm and Berks have been involved with Workhaus Collective since its beginning, with Berks being an original member and Wilhelm directing and designing multiple shows. Feast of Wolves, however, is the first time the two have worked together on a full-scale production. “It’s good to work with a director who’s design-oriented,” says Berks of Wilhelm, who has designed an ambitious set within the Southern’s iconic proscenium. “I like to use the trappings of the theater, and the Southern is a classic space that is beautiful in itself,” adds Wilhelm.
Feast of Wolves will be presented through ARTShare, the Southern Theater’s subscription series that presents work from 15 resident companies throughout a season. ARTShare members can see as much theater as they want at the venue for a monthly fee, but non-members can also purchase tickets. Most productions perform in repertory with another show, but Workhaus Collective managed to snag a solo spot this year, which means the team doesn’t need to clear their set each night in anticipation for another company’s performance. This provides more design opportunities for Feast of Wolves. “The space lends a grandiosity and old-worldness,” says Wilhelm. “I want this to be a visual feast.”
Beyond an ambitious design, Berks has crafted a play “that will shake you a little bit,” he says. “It’s visceral.” Feast of Wolves examines the classic questions of responsibility, power, and family, all while set in a time and place that feels similar and simultaneously foreign. As Workhaus Collective describes via its press release: “Before there was Game of Thrones and House of Cards, there was the War of Troy.”
IF YOU GO:
Feast of Wolves
Friday, November 6-15
The Southern Theater
1420 S. Washington Ave., Minneapolis
$24 (free for ARTShare members)
For tickets and more information, visit online.