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USM Department of Theatre presents a reimagined Greek tale, "The Love of the Nightingale," Nov. 15-24

USM theatre students rehearse

The University of Southern Maine Department of Theatre season dedicated to uplifting women and women’s voices takes a raw and powerful turn with "The Love of the Nightingale" by Timberlake Wertenbaker. The play opens Friday, November 15, followed by an opening night reception and runs through Sunday, November 24. A special “talk back” event takes place on Thursday, November 21. All performances take place at the historic Russell Hall on the USM Gorham Campus. 

This striking adaptation of the classic Greek myth explores the disturbing cycle of violence and revenge. It is a story of human resilience, tracking a victim’s ability to reclaim their voice and ultimately transform in the face of trauma.

The play tells the story of two sisters separated by an ocean and reunited through treachery and devastation. Procne, daughter to King Pandion of Athens, is reluctantly married to Tereus, King of Thrace, and taken to live among his people. Depressed and isolated, Procne asks Tereus to return to Athens and bring her spirited younger sister Philomele to Thrace, triggering a chilling chain of events. 

Show posterFor Bailey Hall, a junior theatre major from Portland, ME who plays the protagonist Philomele, the play is a chance to show a victim reclaiming her voice. “I love the character I portray, and the fact that she goes through all this trauma makes me sad, but it also motivates me to do her character justice. This play shows that you do not have to remain the victim. Even if you have been beaten down, you can still rise up and tell your story.”

This ancient story reinvented with women as the central focus is perfect for our current socio-political climate. "This is not a dusty, slow-moving play full of eternal choral dirges. It's irreverent, fast-paced, and full of movement," said director Rachel Price Cooper. “I love that it's an adaptation of an ancient myth that repositions the generally underdeveloped victim as its central character. Philomele is no longer a secondary character in the all-too-familiar story of a powerful man's downfall. She is a fully developed person in her own right. It also blows apart a lot of common expectations of what ancient Greek Drama actually is." 

She continues, “This play deals with violence. More specifically, gendered, sexual violence. It's an uncomfortable topic, but it's also one that we can't shut our eyes to. It's especially timely in the wake of the #Me-too movement and our current socio-political moment. I think that stories from the past are sometimes our most effective means of examining our present. I hope that we can provide audiences with a really dynamic live theatre experience that's full of spectacle, energy, and striking imagery." 

This show contains depictions of violence and sexual assault and is best suited for mature audiences. Explore more about the back story of the play, and read an interview with the director, at the USM Theatre webpage.

The Love of the Nightingale
By Timberlake Wertenbaker
Directed by Rachel Price Cooper

Performances dates and times:
Friday, 11/15, at 7:30 p.m., followed by opening night reception
Saturday, 11/16, at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, 11/17, at 5:00 p.m.
Wednesday, 11/20, at 5:00 p.m.
Thursday, 11/21, at 6:00 p.m., followed by a talk-back
Friday, 11/22, at 10:00 a.m. (Student Matinee) & 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, 11/23, at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, 11/24, at 2:00 p.m.

School matinee:
USM Department of Theatre offers a special school matinee on Friday, November 22nd at 10:00 am for grades 11 & 12. To bring your school or class to the school matinee, contact Janice Gardner, Audiences Services & Outreach Coordinator:

Ticket Prices:
$16 for adults, $12 for seniors, USM employees and alumni, and $8 for students/youth.

All tickets $8 on Wednesday, November 20 and Thursday, November 21.

To purchase tickets, or for more information, visit USM Theatre online at, or call the USM Theatre Box Office at (207) 780-5151. For more information on USM’s Department of Theatre events and programs, click here.

Those needing special accommodations to participate fully in this program, contact Janice Gardner at (207)780-5289 or Hearing-impaired: call USM's telex / TDD number (207)780-5646