After the sold-out success that was “tick.tick.BOOM!,” University Theatre is preparing for their second major production this semester: Trojan Women. The stories of these two musical plays are vastly different: while “tick.tick.BOOM!” is written as a comical, yet realistic look into a week of the life of Jonathon Larson, “Trojan Women” is a harshly serious and revealing story of the immediate events following the fall of Troy.The first and only performance of the original “Trojan Women” play was shown in Athens in 415 B.C. as a political statement and revisualization of events that had occurred a year earlier during
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the Peloponnesian War between the Athenians and Spartans. Written by Euripedes and serving as a final segment of a Greek trilogy, “Trojan Women” shows the raw emotion of its subjects, and the continued suffering that is bestowed upon the women characters throughout the play.
Euripedes was a Greek playwright known for creating works of a different style than his contemporaries and re-shaping the structure of the tragedy genre as it was then known. He took risks by writing characters of strong women and intelligent slaves, also showing insight to the motives and lives of his characters -a concept that had been unheard of before among Greek plays.
A second risk Euripedes often took in his writing was using the perspective opposite the Greek viewpoint, mocking the Greek gods and satirizing the heroes of his time period and society.
This was the approach Euripedes used when writing “Trojan Women.”
Rather than showing his fellow Greeks as the civilized beings they believed themselves to be, the angle of the play shows the cruelties that the Trojan women experienced at the hands of the Greeks, whom Euripedes presented as harsh, unsympathetic, and cold. This concept of role reversal, when coupled with the traditional Greek chorus, conveys a series of intense emotions meant to shock the originally intended (Greek) audience.
Though the play was written centuries ago, there have been many adaptations that parallel the themes of the production with current events. The main concepts of “Trojan Women” questions and criticizes the brutalization of the innocent victims of war.
“We’re kind of imagining the play as being a little bit into the future with a ‘what if’ scenario, looking at the play as if an unnamed, Western nation becomes Troy and is invaded by another unnamed, foreign nation,” acting coach Leonard Kelly said.
Director Harvey Rovine agrees. “I thought the themes in the play were incredibly timely,” he said, “I mean, we’re bombarded all the time with images of, well, Darfur, as an example, being the most talked about one.”
Even though the play is highly emotional, some of the intensity may be lost upon an audience without the knowledge of the context and history of the production.
To reconcile this possible lapse of complete understanding, Rovine and Kelly have collaborated with Thru Vegas Media Productions, a film company founded and operated by two former WCU students: Steve Blahut and Chris Plough. With the help of current sophomore Daniel Kontz, Thru Vegas is bringing an entirely new view to the production. In efforts to modernize the show in a way unique to West Chester, video will be integrated within the play.
“These guys have a love for theatre, and a really intimate understanding of how theatre works and what theatre needs,” Kelly said. “They’re able to supply that without overloading it with film issues. They know how to put film into theatre so it works as a real, true design element that supports the theatrical event.”
In addition to the video interface within the play, Thru Vegas has also been releasing videos via various online sources on a weekly basis for the past several weeks. The videos are a series of news releases on a modern network named Trojan World News.
“It’s the historical background of events up to the moment the play starts,” Rovine said. “With the use of video, integrating it into the production.it’s a pretty innovative, exciting, theatre experience, in and of itself.”
The videos are available on www.myspace.com/wcutrojanwomen, and www.youtube.com/wcutrojanwomenand Trojan Women’s Facebook group.
“You get to experience the war in this play the same way someone would really experience it through this use of video – through the challenges, the jump-cuts, the quality of image,” said Kelly.
“It really moves it past the realistic and lifts it to, as odd as it sounds, a kind of brutal poetry that comes with this. It ends up being a remarkably beautiful thing within its desolation.”
Along with the collaboration of Thru Vegas as a promotional and performance-enhancing tool, professional artist Michael Masterson has designed the posters posted around campus. Paralleling the theme of war, the posters take a propagandistic view, showing emotions of terror and sorrow.
Trojan Women will be shown at the Madeleine Wing Adler Theatre in Swope Music Building from March 25 – 29. Show times are: 3/25-26, 7:30 p.m., 3/27-28, 8:00 p.m., and 3/29 at 2:00 p.m. For ticket information, please call 610-436-2533.
Tara Tanzos is a second-year student majoring in English. She can be reached at TT649875@wcupa.edu.