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Theater Emory brings ‘Britney Approximately: A Pop Greek Tragedy’ to the stage
students on stage with signs that read 'free britney'

An all-student cast brings a new play about motherhood, isolation and power to the stage April 6-16 in “Britney Approximately: A Pop Greek Tragedy.”

— Casey Ford

Theater Emory presents “Britney Approximately: A Pop Greek Tragedy,” a new play with original pop music about motherhood, isolation and power. Pushed through a glitter-pink meat grinder, it mixes Euripides’ “Medea” with a loose retelling of the Britney Spears conservatorship court battle. One part bombastic and violent Greek tragedy and one hundred parts tragic-pop-diva-revenge-song, this play asks: What does our treatment of celebrity say about us?

“Britney Approximately: A Pop Greek Tragedy” opens in the Mary Gray Munroe Theater on Thursday, April 6, with a nine-performance run scheduled through Sunday, April 16. General admission tickets are $15.

The production features an all-student cast and is written and directed by Megan Tabaque (joint playwriting fellow, creative writing and theater studies, 2021-23). The performance is two years in the making.

“I started writing this play in April of 2021 as a short play commission from my colleagues at Vanderbilt University,” Tabaque says. “A handful of playwrights were tasked with writing a piece dealing with some aspect of life during the pandemic.” 

In 2021, mid-pandemic, two documentaries were released surrounding Spears’ conservatorship. “I think this moment of stillness allowed the news about what was happening to Britney to proliferate,” Tabaque says. “We learned that she had been forced into her own kind of cage for the last decade! I followed it closely. And then I made the connection. And I started writing my pandemic play about Britney.” 

For Tabaque, media scrutiny of female pop icons plays heavily into her work.

“Both fans and our media culture expected her to be all these things while she was being controlled: a perfect pop star, a role model, a perfect mother, a sex goddess (but not too sexy), well spoken — and all under such immense pressures. And that led me to think about ‘Medea’: a story about a betrayed woman who must resort to drastic measures to reclaim some part of her life. Britney and Medea felt like a perfect mash-up for the moment.”

As Spears continues to make headlines with deleted Instagram accounts, name changes and the constant accusations of mental health issues playing out in the public eye, the story unfolding in “Britney Approximately” feels ever-so-relevant to modern audiences.

As Tabaque says, “Our lives are in flux. Our culture is in flux. So, in that way, Britney’s story very much continues to mirror our own.”

A post-show panel discussion will follow the final performance on Sunday, April 16. Panelists will include Cassie Young, Emory alumnus and EVP of “The Bert Show”; senior lecturer of classics Katrina Dickson; and Sanjena Sathian, 2022-24 creative writing fellow in fiction. 

“Britney Approximately: A Pop Greek Tragedy” is presented by arrangement with the playwright as a workshop production. Tickets are available online or at the Schwartz Center box office. For directions and additional information, visit the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts website.

About Theater at Emory

Theater at Emory unites faculty and student research, integrating classroom and laboratory, to entertain and engage multiple communities. Theater at Emory encompasses the Theater Studies Program, Theater Emory, the Playwriting Center and Student Theater.

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