“The air smells damp, the earth it moans, it groans to her, it heats her bones. Damp in the night as the moon lights the night, greeted by Nyx as she leaves her home. Into the woods she goes, and she’s finally alone.“
Agave. A woman craving liberation from her stagnant life, seeking the feeling of freedom. Invisible within the eyes of society, within the walls of her home, her bones are burning with loneliness. Her husband’s dead, she’s lost a daughter- and she can’t remember who she was before she had a family. Agave’s ready to burst at the first glimpse of freedom until she hears someone call her name …
A vengeful god with a flair for the dramatic indulges Agave’s resistance to her son’s oppressive nature and before she knows it she’s living in the wild. It’s women only, and as they unite in ecstatic transcendence, Agave begins to lose her grip on reality. How far will one woman go to protect her freedom?
A one woman epic poem written, directed, and performed by By Jove artistic associate SJ Brady, Here She Comes is a gripping reclamation of Euripides’ tale of excess and liberation, The Bacchae.
“Fresh and vigorous” London Theatre 1
“Brady’s writing is rhythmic and full of variation … She performs like an Ancient Greek Kate Tempest” Tombolton.co.uk
“Utterly mesmerising” Rachel H on Twitter
“This show was just amazing … SJ was captivating … a truly brilliant and original piece of theatre” Rachel F on Facebook
15-21 May @ the Gallery on the Corner, Tooting
Text written and performed by SJ Brady
Music composed and performed by Vivienne Youel
Design SJ Brady and David Bullen
Producing team David Bullen, Sinead Costelloe, Rosa Wicks, Vanessa Szymanska, Nicole Savin
Stage manager Wendy Haines
Publicity design Ivo de Jager
With special thanks to Douglas and Maureen Dyer; Robin Osmani and Harry Cardross at The Gallery on the Corner; Tom, Dickie, and Debbie Spurgin; Vicky Bastable; The Horse & Groom, Streatham Hill; and Speedrange Ltd.
SJ BRADY ON CREATING HERE SHE COMES
“The poem stemmed from a written response to Wendy Haines’ adaptation of The Bacchae, in which I played Agave. It evolved into an epic poem – ultimately to provide the character of Agave with a voice. In Euripides’ version you don’t meet her until the end, and only then it’s to chastise her – and when it was first performed she was played by a man. I wanted to explore why she chose to leave her home, her search for identity ‘post family’ and how the role of mother, in her case, becomes invisible within the eyes of society and within the walls of her home. In this text she is much more conscious of her actions, and extremely lonely – so I really wanted to let her have her moment and not just be backed into a corner. There is also an idea of the ‘ideology of freedom’ I wanted to explore: leaving one repressive state to follow another to be free – which of course never works – but desperate people do desperate things. You don’t have to agree with Agave’s actions, but I think Here She Comes offers a depiction of why people, when pushed to their limits, behave the way they do.”
MORE ABOUT HERE SHE COMES & THE BACCHAE
Here She Comes was developed by SJ Brady in response to By Jove’s 2014 adaptation of The Bacchae, Before They Told You What You Are. You can learn more about that production – a commission by the Annual Meeting of Postgraduates in Reception of the Ancient World – in our archive.
Euripides’ final tragedy, first performed in Athens in 405 BCE, is at the heart of Here She Comes. It tells the story
of Dionysus, the ancient Greek god of theatre, wine, and ecstatic revelry, returning to the city of his birth,
Thebes. Having spent years abroad, he’s come home to spread his worship to the Greek world. The Theban king Pentheus resists the god, however, declaring him to be false. The Bacchae sees Dionysus inspire madness in all the women of the city – including Agave, Pentheus’ mother – driving them up to nearby woods to worship the god in isolation. Eventually, through a series of clever tricks, Dionysus convinces Pentheus to dress up as one of the female worshippers in order to spy on them – as might be expected from a Greek tragedy, and as you can see from this vase painting, it doesn’t end well.
Shunned for a long time post-antiquity as barbaric, The Bacchae came to prominence again in the 20th century. It was the play in the counter culture of the late 1960s and 70s, with dozens of productions in Britain and hundreds across the world. It has been in vogue again in the early 21st century, with productions from the National Theatre (2002), Kneehigh (2004), Manchester Royal Exchange (2010), Shakespeare’s Globe (2013), and the Almeida (2015).
The first modern performance of the play took place in 1908 thanks to suffragist actress Lillah McCarthy. Over on our journal accompanying the season, SPARAGMOS, you can read about how Here She Comes follows this century-long feminist tradition of working with Euripides’ tragedy about women literally ripping up the patriarchy. Check it out here.