North County High School in Ferndale may seem a trifle removed from the amphitheater at Athens, but that hardly fazes a troupe of actors intent on bringing Greek tragedy to the stage in Anne Arundel County.
This weekend and next, Sophocles' immortal "Oedipus Rex" will be presented at North County under the auspices of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA), the men's club of Baltimore's Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation.
"Almost a year and a half ago, some idiot asked if the Baltimore Greek community had ever sponsored or performed a Greek tragedy," AHEPA member Gus Demos of Bel Air said, laughing.
"That idiot was me," he added. "But I guess others agreed it was a good idea."
An actor who once spent 13 years in New York doing Shakespeare with the Riverside Shakespeare Company in Manhattan, Mr. Demos is thrilled with the idea of Greek-Americans performing classical tragedy for fellow Greeks and for the community at large.
"No one can remember anything like this happening for at least the past 40 years," he said.
The tale of Oedipus, the extraordinary king who tempted fate and had the bad sense to want to find out the details, has summed up the essence of the tragic theater through 2,500 years of literary commentators, beginning with Aristotle.
Secondary roles in this production will be taken by AHEPA members who are relatively new to the stage, but the lead characters will be played by experienced local actors. Mr. Demos plays Oedipus, the king who, when he realizes he has married his mother, commits one of the most stunning acts of self-mutilation in literature.
"It is our intention to present classic Greek culture that has survived for thousands of years and make it accessible to modern audiences," said Mr. Demos, who also has directed the production. "We know it's a stretch to do a play like this, but we are very earnest in our attempt to deliver the story of Oedipus to our audience."
"Oedipus the King" will be performed at North County High School, 10 E. 1st Ave. in Ferndale, at 8 p.m. today and tomorrow and June 9 and 10, and at 3 p.m. Sunday and June 11. Call 796-8054 for reservations.