Constraint Fuels Creativity : Programming Innovation in the Time of COVID

In May, Villanova Theatre commissioned five MA in Theatre alumni to write short plays in response to Anne Carson's adaptation of Euripides’ Bakkhai. These gifted playwrights were charged with creating new pieces that would reflect, refract and interrogate Euripides’ original play, and be able to be realized and transmitted remotely, in order to maintain safe distancing.

To the surprise of no one involved, Jessica Bedford (’10), Mark Costello (’10), Alexandra Espinoza (’18), Alix Rosenfeld (’16) and Megan Schumacher (’18) have crafted a diverse array of new works that promise to delight and inspire artists and audiences alike.

We are pleased, therefore, to announce our first production of the year - Bakkhai Variations, a collection of five filmed plays which will be presented both individually and as a unified work in the latter half of October. These events will be live-streamed to audiences in order to ensure the safety of all participants.

To help place these new works in the context of their ancient predecessor, Villanova Theatre will also present two livestreamed Zoom readings of Anne Carson’s Bakkhai in early October, featuring performers from across the Villanova community. 

James Ijames, Villanova professor and one of Philadelphia’s brightest theatrical lights, will direct two of the pieces, with the other three led by a talented trio of visiting directors from within the region - Cat Ramirez, Tai Verley, and Malika Oyetimein.

Villanova professor and award-winning filmmaker Hezekiah Lewis will serve the project as Director of Photography, and the creative teams will feature a mix of veteran and emerging professionals, as we foster collaborations between our students and theatrical veterans.

There is a $5 suggested donation for each of the short plays, a $10 suggested donation for Anne Carson’s Bakkhai and a $25 suggested donation for the full-length film Bakkhai Variations.

When you register for the event, you will receive a link to a password-protected website where each video will be published after its respective release date and for the duration of its run. Streaming Instructions are available here.

Please contact the Villanova Theatre Box Office at 610-519-7474 or via email at if you have any questions. Please be advised that due to reduced hourly staffing and social distancing guidelines, we are utilizing Google Voice to field Box Office calls. If you do not receive a call back in a timely fashion, please feel free to call or text us directly on Google Voice at 484-297-9693.

Streaming Schedule

Monday, Oct. 12 @ 8pm
Bakkhai by Anne Carson
zoom reading

Friday, Oct. 16 @ 7pm
She Makes Knives Now by Mark J. Costello
available through October 23

Saturday, Oct. 17 @ 7pm
The Bakkhai; or, I'm trying so hard to be good by Alix Rosenfeld
available through October 24

Sunday, Oct. 18 @ 7pm
Bakkhai by Anne Carson
zoom reading rebroadcast

Friday, Oct. 23 @ 7pm
Dionté and Khai Do Dinner by Megan Schumacher
available through October 30

Saturday, Oct. 24 @ 7pm
Beginning by Jessica Bedford
available through October 31

Friday, Oct. 30 @ 7pm
exxx...stasis, exxx...hale... by Alexandra Espinoza
available through November 6

Saturday, Oct. 31 @ 7pm
Bakkhai Variations (full-length film showcasing all five plays) available through November 14

Dramaturgical Resources

Click on the thumbnail below to view Zach Apony's dramaturgical visual file.


October 12 & 18, 2020

By Euripides

A New Version by Anne Carson

Directed by Heidi M. Rose

When Dionysus, god of theatre, ecstasy and intoxication discovers that his cousin King Pentheus has banned his worship and denied his divinity, all hell breaks loose.

She Makes Knives Now 

October 16, 2020


By Mark J. Costello

Directed by James Ijames

Street corner verses and manic meditations combine to reconstruct Agave’s tumultuous journey after she is sentenced to exile in Bakkhai.

The Bakkhai; or, I'm trying so hard to be good 

October 17, 2020

By Alix Rosenfeld

Directed by Tai Verley

Ilana is a big-shot director, and Dee is a talented actress on the cusp of her big break. But Dee’s audition flips the script, revealing truths untold.

Dionté and Khai Do Dinner

October 23, 2020

By Megan Schumacher

Directed by Malika Oyetimein

Dionysus and Pentheus are not god and king, but a new-in-town Black professor and his nosy White neighbor. 


October 24, 2020

By Jessica Bedford

Directed by James Ijames

In pairs and whispers, the daughters of King Cadmus divulge the news of their pregnancies.

exxx...stasis, exxx...hale...

October 30, 2020

By Alexandra Espinoza

Directed by Cat Ramirez

Nadia and Cecily are trying to make their socially distanced relationship work, but keeping it sexy is whole different grape on the vine.