Olivier Kemeid's Version of Latin Epic the Aeneid Is Brought to Life by the NYU Abu Dhabi Theater Program for the Annual Main Stage Student Production.

Directed by Sarah Cameron Sunde, Olivier Kemeid’s The Aeneid is a thought provoking play that focuses on the importance of family, friends, and what it means to search for home

Press Release

The NYU Abu Dhabi Theater Program and The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD)  proudly present a bold new theatrical adaptation of The Aeneid, the annual mainstage student production transforms the epic Latin poem for the stage from Wednesday, November 15 to November 18.

The Aeneid is a modern adaptation of Virgil’s classic poem, thanks to Canadian playwright Olivier Kemeid. An ordinary night turns to catastrophe and Aeneas and Creusa’s home is burned to the ground. Resources are limited, nothing will grow, neighbors have become enemies. Aeneas, his family, and his best friend Achates flee from their unnamed city. This adaptation sees the search for a homeland shift from its classic roots to a modern world of transformation and migration.

Those in attendance will see a performance staged by celebrated director Sarah Cameron Sunde featuring a cast of NYUAD students, as they take the text from page to stage; Kemeid’s version perfectly highlights the importance of family and friends, and what it means to search for a home. The performance is rich with drama with flickers of humor, as the performers encounter tourist resorts, refugee camps and immigration officers. And the message is as relevant today as when it was first written a decade ago.

Taking place in The Black Box – an intimate and flexible venue at The Arts Center at NYUAD which has been transformed for this production – guests will be taken on a journey across borders, through fire, over water and into the underworld in search of a new space to call home.

  • Directed by Sarah Cameron Sunde
  • Written by Olivier Kemeid
  • Translated by Judith Miller
  • Music by Joshua Dumas

Bill Bragin, executive artistic director at The Arts Center at NYUAD, is thrilled to offer such a performance to Abu Dhabi: “The NYUAD Theater program’s annual production is always a highlight, giving the community of Abu Dhabi an opportunity to see our students working at the highest level, under the direction of exceptional visiting artists like Sarah Cameron Sunde. The themes of The Aeneid resonate with so many other performances in this season’s programming at the Arts Center - such as empathy, environmental issues, and migration - and I’m excited to see how this rich work resonates with our other theater offerings: Octavia E. Buter’s Parable of the Sower, The Fever, Gardens Speak, and Noura.

Sarah Cameron Sunde, Director:   “What a joy and privilege it is to dig into this epic tale with students from all over the world. Our production critiques some classic modes of storytelling while adding new contemporary layers of meaning into Olivier and Judy’s brilliant adaptation and translation.  We challenge the patriarchy and question the fantasy of settlement from Virgil’s original work, while attempting to re-frame the story through a “climate lens” - with an understanding that as we enter the Anthropocene, more and more people will be displaced due to climate catastrophe, so we need to tell the human story with a more-than-human frame.  

Tickets are available from Wednesday, November 1 at 3pm, with performances from Wednesday November 15 to Saturday November 18 at 8pm, as well as a Saturday matinee performance at 2pm.

The Arts Center at NYUAD is an internationally renowned performing arts center that presents distinguished professional artists from around the world alongside student, faculty, and community productions. 

About NYU Abu Dhabi

NYU Abu Dhabi is the first comprehensive liberal arts and research campus in the Middle East to be operated abroad by a major American research university. NYU Abu Dhabi has integrated a highly selective undergraduate curriculum across the disciplines with a world center for advanced research and scholarship. The university enables its students in the sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities, and arts to succeed in an increasingly interdependent world and advance cooperation and progress on humanity’s shared challenges. NYU Abu Dhabi’s high-achieving students have come from over 115 countries and speak over 115 languages. Together, NYU's campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai form the backbone of a unique global university, giving faculty and students opportunities to experience varied learning environments and immersion in other cultures at one or more of the numerous study-abroad sites NYU maintains on six continents.