Shakespeare Theatre Company's

Academy for Classical Acting

Spring 2022 Devised Project

April 1 &2, 7:30 PM

Director Dody DiSanto; Asstistant Director Paul Reisman

About Gilgamesh

Dating back to 2100 BCE, Gilgamesh is an epic poem from ancient Mesopotamia, considered to be the earliest surviving notable literature. Written on clay tablets in cuneiform, a logo-syllabic script named for the characteristic wedge-shaped impressions which form its signs, the epic of Gilgamesh is regarded as a foundational work in the tradition of heroic tales.

In our telling, many actors portray Gilgamesh and Enkidu at various points in their journeys together.

Plot Synopsis

Gilgamesh, King of the city of Uruk, works his people to death and takes what he wants from them. The people of Uruk cry out to the gods for help.

The goddess Aruru creates a rival for Gilgamesh, an untamed man called Enkidu, who lives among the wild animals. When he frees an animal from a trap set by the Uruk hunters, the hunters ask Gilgamesh to send a woman, Shamhat, to seduce Enkidu. When the two meet in the woods, they make love for six days and seven nights. Afterwards, the wild animals shun Enkidu.

Shamhat and Enkidu join a caravan on its way back to the city. While stopped at camp, Enkidu is shaven down to his skin, in order to be more presentable to civilization. His beauty awes the onlookers, and they suppose him to be as god-like as Gilgamesh himself.

In Uruk, Enkidu and Gilgamesh have an epic wresting match. They become inseparable friends, and plan to do great deeds together.

They set out to slay Humbaba, a creature with a thousand faces who guards the trees of the cedar forest. Gilgamesh and Enkidu hunt Humbaba and trap him. Humbaba curses them as they deal the final blow.

Upon their return to Uruk, the goddess Ishtar falls in love with Gilgamesh. When Gilgamesh refuses her, Ishtar asks her father to unleash the Bull of Heaven to destroy the city. Gilgamesh and Enkidu slay the Bull. The gods decree that Enkidu must die for the insult.

Enkidu suffers for twelve days before dying.

Terrified of meeting this fate himself, Gilgamesh goes in search of immortality. On his journey, a goddess named Sidhuri, disguised as a bartender, tells him to seek Utnapishtim, to whom the gods granted immortality following The Great Flood.

Gilgamesh finds Utnapishtim, who tells him that if he could conquer sleep, the gods might grant him immortal life. Gilgamesh tries to stay awake for seven days, but falls asleep immediately.

Utnapishtim’s wife tells Gilgamesh of a magical plant that restores youth. Gilgamesh fetches the plant and heads back to Uruk. But when he stops to bathe in a pond, a serpent devours the plant, sheds its skin and slithers off.

Laying eyes upon his great city of Uruk again, Gilgamesh makes peace with his mortality.

Saron Araia, Travis Xavier Brown, Brandon Haagenson, James Carlos Lacey, Marie Claire Lyon, Maria del Mar Rodriguez, Erik Sorensen, Anna Takayo Walden, Summer Wei, Claire Blackwelder, Joshua Decker, Bowen Fox, Jonathan Jacobs, Kiana Johnson, Quinn M. Johnson, Tina Khaladze, Ryan Neely, Melissa Christine Ray, Sheri Gilbert-Wilson

Alec Wild, ACA Director • Lisa Beley, Head of Voice and Text