September 28 — November 21, 2010
In the Ellyn Bye Studio

Created by Denis O’Hare and Lisa Peterson
Directed by Penny Metropulos and starring Joseph Graves
“A performance that can honestly be described as spellbinding.” —Willamette Week

“Intimate, unstuffy, timely, accessible.” —The Seattle Times

Leave it to Tony-award winning actor Denis O’Hare* and visionary director Lisa Peterson to find a way to make the western world’s oldest extant work of literature not only intelligible, but immediate, relevant and eerily fascinating—like a barroom raconteur telling literally the oldest story in the book and making you believe it is being told for the first time. Gods and goddesses, weak-tendoned heroes and the face that launched a thousand ships…it’s all just another (incredibly engrossing) yarn in O’Hare* and Peterson’s one-man adaptation, developed at the Sundance Theatre Institute.

*Denis O’Hare is the co-creator of the piece but will not be the actor performing in the Portland Center Stage production. Joseph Graves will star in the Portland Center Stage production.

An Iliad runs approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes with no intermission. Please note that latecomers cannot be seated.

As a modern retelling of an ancient tale, please note that this production includes strobe lights, theatrical haze, and some strong language.

Set Design by William Bloodgood, Costume Design by Jeff Cone, Lighting Design by Diane Ferry Williams, and Sound Design by Sterling Tinsley.

View the Cast and Creative Team Bios

Playbill for An Iliad

Performance Times

Evenings: Tuesday - Sunday at 7:30 p.m.
Matinees: Saturday and Sundays at 2 p.m.,
Thursdays at noon

*Note: These are general performance times. Certain productions may have exceptions. View the season calendar for more information.

This show's run time will be posted below the synopsis at left near the date of the first performance.

Production blog

Oregon Stories of War—FREE Mondays Nov 8th and 15th

02 November 2010 & Posted by Sarah Mitchell

In conjunction with our production of An Iliad and the Veteran’s Day holiday, PCS will offer an innovative performance in which military veterans have staged the telling of their real-life experiences for our community. Only two more shows—don’t miss it!


Meet the Cast and Creative Team of An Iliad

19 October 2010 & Posted by Cynthia Fuhrman

Check out the bios of the fantastic cast and creative team who made An Iliad possible.


Formative Stages Post-Show Discussion—Nov 14th

06 October 2010 & Posted by Sarah Mitchell

Following the Sunday November 14th 2pm matinee of An Iliad, PCS and the Oregon Psychoanalytic Center will present a post-show panel discussion as part of our series, “Formative Stages: Theater and the Life of the Mind.”



An Iliad art & photos View on Flickr »

Trailer 1 for An Iliad. View on Vimeo »

Trailer 2 for An Iliad. View on Vimeo »

Actor Joseph Graves talks about An Iliad. View on Vimeo »

Reviews and Features

Darsey Landoe | Darsey Culpepper [Review 09 Nov 2010]

If you want cheap seats at the Pearl District’s swanky Portland Center Stage Theater, you’ve got to dress up, find parking, and then linger around the front door of the theater until the Rush line opens just five minutes before showtime, hoping a couple of unsold seats remain. It’s a risk, but when you do get seats, it’s totally worth it. The other night, Brian and I did just this to catch a rendition of The Iliad.

We arrived about half an hour before the cheap seats were on sale, so Brian found the men’s room and I waited outside to get some fresh air before the tickets went on sale.

At the front entrance, I had two choices of company-by-proximity to choose from: a high school girl smoking a cigarette, apparently on break from a pastry shop around the corner, or a homeless guy, muttering to himself and sitting on the sidewalk, similarly cigaretted. I chose the latter. I stood about a foot away from him, leaned on the brick wall at the entrance of the theater and took in a spoonful of ice cream from the Ben & Jerry’s we’d picked up across the street (sorry, Dad). 

The guy beside me wears a dingy red scarf and some finger-less mittens, and he fidgets with his cigarette. And he’s muttering. He’s muttering about how all the people walking past aren’t paying any attention to him. He’s not talking to me, per say, he’s just complaining. Couples are walking past, wearing tweed jackets and heels and boots, their eyes meeting mine at eye-level, trying not to look down at this mumbling man in their peripheral.

I want to cross into his world, though. Break through his plane of anonymity. I lean over and look him in the eye, sideways. “How ya doin?” I ask.

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Christi Krug | Kindling [Review 01 Nov 2010]

Sometimes I cheat at being literate. Certain tomes are just too dense for me, so I find alternative ways to digest them. That’s why I was happy to recently see Portland Center Stage’s production An Iliad (on stage through November 21). I could finally enjoy the story of The Iliad without stopping every page or two, squinting and mumbling to keep the names straight.

Because, I’m sorry to say, I love the stories but have a hard time following the multisyllabic monikers and places from which they hail. I forget which maidens have been stolen from which conquests, and which gods are creating alliances with which other gods, who are all lackadaisically sticking a toe in to interfere now and then.

I was surprised to discover that this was a one-man show, and Joseph Graves was impressive in his range of voices and personalities. I am always amazed when one person can create for the audience images which keep our rapt attention. The heated battle scenes, especially, obscured the fact that I was watching a single actor, not two, or seven.

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sez | Go Geezers Guide: Theater in Portland [Review 25 Oct 2010]

This is what theater is suppose to be, engaging, serious, alive, even breathtaking and full of purpose. Rage is the beginning, an epic is told, but what is the human reality underlying the emotion and the history? Why do humans war? Strife raises its head and grows till it fills the sky, says our one man singer/storyteller. He asks repeatedly, do you see what I am saying? can you really see it? And no one can ignore what his words bring into the room. He makes us see even if we don’t want to look. The energy required to provide this performance is extraordinary—but Graves ran this marathon—a full hour and 45 minutes, non-stop, without skipping a beat, or resting in the process. This is a suburb piece of theater, beautifully done.

Ben Waterhouse | Willamette Week [Review 07 Oct 2010]

Beneath the bulging muscle, the polished armor, the gleaming fleets and onlooking deities, The Iliad, Homer’s poem of the ugliest battle of the Trojan war, boils down to this: Dying fighting in defense of your country can be pretty fucking unseemly. This is especially true when your body is dragged by a chariot around the walls of your hometown, in full view of your wife—it’s not seemly at all.

This truth, in all its sadness and ugliness, is captured fairly well in An Iliad, a solo performance adapted by Denis O’Hare and Lisa Peterson from Robert Fagles’ translation of the poem. Here’s how it goes: A ragged storyteller stumbles onto the stage in what looks like a highway underpass, the stone walls inscribed with the names of millennia of soldiers. He is drunk, unkempt. He doesn’t seem to want to tell you his war stories, but he is compelled, possibly by the gods. And so he sings.

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Alison Hallett | The Portland Mercury [Review 07 Oct 2010]

THERE’S NOTHING TO DO here but tell the truth: I had to pee really, really badly for the duration of Portland Center Stage’s one man-show An Iliad. I checked my watch constantly throughout the intermission-less show; the scene where fountain sound effects tinkle musically as actor Joseph Graves described the gardens of Troy was like a watery hell designed just for me.

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