Welcome to Oedipus at FDR, a Greek myth in a skatepark.

How did we get here?
Like Oedipus, I was out wandering around.

I didn’t know what was going to happen. One day I walked into FDR. But a body walking in a skatepark is a body in danger. Wheels and feet don’t move the same way. Neither do Greeks and Thebans. Or gods and humans. Actors and skaters?

I followed a cursed king to his mysterious death. A body cursed becomes a blessing. A life in ruins is enlightened.

We are at FDR, where the rules are made up as you go. So when the unexpected arrives, like death, or a turn you didn’t see coming, watch the skaters: they can’t fly unless they can fall.


From The Inquirer

Oedipus at FDR. Fires crackle and blaze out of trash cans. We're sitting on the ground in a concrete bowl under I-95, with music (the endlessly brilliant James Sugg) throbbing into our brains through earphones. Trucks rumble overhead. Emmanuelle Delpech-Ramey found this astonishing venue, conceived and directed this thrilling version of the myth of Oedipus at Colonus (written by Suli Holum) and assembled a fine and diverse cast, including a chorus of skateboarders.

Blind, exiled, wandering the world, Oedipus (Pearce Bunting) has finally arrived at the end of his journey; he says, "The laws of physics, like fate, followed me." A skateboarder stands at the top of a graffiti-covered concrete cliff and says, "One slip and you lose the edge." Questions linger in the smoky air: Is Oedipus talking about his own destruction or about skateboarding? Is the skateboarder talking about physical risk or mythic inevitability?
While all the dreadful events happen, as they must, Theseus (Mikaal Sulaiman) stands firm, protecting Oedipus even after arrogant Creon (Brian Osborne) arrives on a motorcycle and captures Oedipus' daughters/sisters, Antigone (Corinna Burns) and Ismene (Hinako Arao). And even after Polyneices (James ljames) arrives to beg for the throne. Through it all, the chorus whizzes, rolls and roars around. The soundscape rivals the landscape for a cool beyond saying. If only everybody could see this one. - Toby Zinman

Sold out. 7 and tomorrow at FDR Park; transportation provided from 119 Arch St.


This project is an adaptation of Oedipus at Colonus, a site-specific work
that reinvents Sophocles’s Greek classic in a landscape of danger and
urban tragedy: the concrete jungle of the FDR skatepark in South
Philadelphia. Against the skatepark’s backdrop of shipyards, freeways,
and railroads, an ensemble of professional actors and a chorus of
inner-city skateboarders present classical tragedy in the urban
jungle. We attempt to confront the Oedipus myth with our modern aesthetic in a wild urban amphitheatre. The play’s chorus includes seven skateboarders who both skate
and perform the text. We look at slam poetry to discover
new ways of speaking Sophocles’s text. The sound design is
inspired by electronic beats and trance music—the music of the mythical
rave parties of the 1990’s that tried to renew Dionysus rituals.

At a time when national and global events seem more and more beyond our
control, the Oedipus myth of the power of fate and destiny seems more
relevant than ever. Can we escape our destiny? What would it be like
to know the future? Is there another way of facing fate than running
as Oedipus ran? What can humans truly do in the face of mysterious
higher powers and authorities? On their way into the show, audience
members have the chance to explore these themes individually
through tarot card and I Ching readings.
Audiences can then consider their own destinies as they witness
Oedipus’ unfolding struggle and mysterious death.

Oedipus’ death brings up more questions. How, in our society, do we
perceive death? How is death presented, on TV, in the movies, in the
news? Do our deaths condemn us or finally give sense to our lives? Is
death a threat we all fear? In Oedipus at Colonus, Oedipus
mysteriously disappears, as if absorbed by the air of the foreign land
in which he dies. Is death a foreign country? To celebrate Oedipus’
passage to the beyond, the audience is treated to a post-show dance
party featuring local DJ talents, fire-throwers, and
death-defying skateboard tricks.