EURIPIDES' TROJAN WOMEN

A Note from the Director

This piece has been one of my most challenging artistic projects to date. Trojan Women is so big, so nuanced, so ancient, and pulls on so many heartstrings, that it is difficult to write or speak about this it in broad strokes or linear sentences. But I know I can say this much:

 

Someone once told me that producing a play is like casting a spell. I have since learned what she meant through this show. The themes and events of the play start revealing themselves to you in the room, in your life, and on the news- as if you are casting a spell on the world around you with the text. The spell these actors have cast has forced me to wrestle with many things: the unfathomable strength of women in times of crisis, the comedy that accompanies hopelessness, the often unheard sorrow of the Matriarch whose world crumbles before her, the complexity of male allyship in a world of gendered expectations, the bottomless sorrow of women who cross borders and lose their children, and, perhaps most importantly, the way hate irrevocably poisons and permeates community, down to its roots.

 

This is a story of women surviving, sometimes at the expense of one another, and sometimes not. At the end of each run, I am filled with a heavy sense of gratitude for Helen, Hecuba, and Cassandra (and all of these ancient, archetypical women and men), precisely because they have endured these things so that we do not have to. Their stories allow us to imagine a different world and give us the tools to build the community we want - one where we fight for each other, believe each other, and heal each other.

 

As Hecuba offers us directly, "All is well. Had God not taken us in his hand and thrust our high things low, we would not be this splendor, and our wrong an everlasting music for the song of Earth and Heaven."

 

So welcome to their everlasting splendor, or to their spell. Welcome to Troy.

 

Love,

Olivia Buntaine

Artistic Director of Project Nongenue

Cast & Creative

Summer 2018

Cast

Kay Capasso, Eris · Taylor Jackson Ross*, Hecuba ·  Liz Eldridge*, Leader · Elizabeth Jane Birmingham, Iris, Assistant Director, Costumer · Avrielle Corti, Zosime · Cameron Rose, Talthybius, Menelaus

 

Creative

Set Designer · Kyra Morling, Cassandra · Celia Mandela, Andromache ·  Daphne Gabriel, Helen  · Olivia Buntaine, Director · Christine Breihan, Movement Director · Rob Angell, Producer, Dramaturg  · Al Washburn, Graphic Designer

About the Play

 

In perhaps one of the first recorded pieces of theater in the Western canon that passes the Bechdel test, Euripides’ Trojan Women tells a story of women who are stronger than gods. Trojan Women offers an unapologetic and powerful look at the act of community-building during times of grief, the gendered violence of war, and the messy aftermath of both real and mythic Greek conquests. Written circa 415 BCE and set immediately after the Trojan War, Trojan Women follows in real time the lives of nine remaining Trojan women (and two Greek men) as their city is captured. Project Nongenue digs up, reworks, and breathes life into this historical text through movement, modern and classical language, and contemporary themes.

 

At Project Nongenue, we believe classical stories have, over many centuries, shaped our understandings of identity, justice and morality. By centering marginalized voices and using a contemporary lens to challenge the archetypes, stereotypes and lessons these foundational stories teach, we examine the way these timeless themes continue to exist in ourselves.

This play opens on a war camp in Troy after the Trojans have already lost to the Greeks. We feel it is important, however, to illustrate how this world came to be before you enter it.

 

The Gods had a party on Mt. Olympus. They chose to not invite Eris, the Goddess of Discord, perhaps because they felt she would ruin the vibe. Angered by this slight, Eris devised a way to ensure that she ruined their night. She threw a golden apple (known always after as The Apple of Discord) on which she had inscribed “to the fairest” into the party. Naturally, Hera (Goddess of Women), Aphrodite (Goddess of Love) and Athena (Goddess of Wisdom and War) each assumed the apple was for them. A fight ensued, and the three goddesses demanded that Zeus determine which of them was the fairest and deserved the apple.

 

Knowing better than to get in the middle of this argument, Zeus suggested that Paris of Troy, a mortal he knew to have good judgement, should make the call. Each Goddess promised something different to Paris if he chose her: Hera promised immense power, Athena promised incredible strength, and Aphrodite promised the love of the most beautiful woman in the world. Paris chose Aphrodite, and thus, the love of Helen was promised to him. Eris was probably watching somewhere cackling the whole time.

 

The events that followed, and why they occurred, are still up to interpretation. We know Paris visited Greece while Greece and Troy were on good terms, and we know that Helen left her husband, Menelaus, and got on Paris’ boat headed back to Troy. Upon hearing that Helen was gone, Menelaus approached his brother Agamemnon, and they decided to wage war on Troy. This war lasted for ten years, and ended with Odysseus’ Trojan Horse. Greek soldiers hid inside a giant steel steed, which they had presented as a “Congrats on winning the war” present. In the middle of the night, while the Trojans celebrated what they thought was a victory, the Greek soldiers crept out of the horse, unlocked the gates of Troy for the rest of the soldiers who were waiting, and sacked the city. This type of militaristic sneak attack was unheard of at that point in time.

 

During that night, Paris died. Priam, King of Troy, died. Hector, Troy’s most steady and masterful warrior, had died days earlier. Almost all of the city is killed or enslaved. Left behind are only the Trojan Women. And Helen.

 

What is the moral of this story?

Acknowledgements

Leslie Rose for Lighting Design · John Accorda for Set Construction · Rich Rose for Scenic Consultation · Elizabeth Birmingham for Costuming · Cameron Rose for Set Design · Rob Angell for Dramaturgy · Al Washburn for Graphic/Web Design · Rob Angell and Al Washburn for Drums · The Buntaine Family · The Birmingham Family · The Jackson-Ross Family · Jay and the Lizard · Amber and the Lounge · The LAFPI · Our House Managers · Steph Woods and Pompey · The Women of Caesar · Euripides · And – YOU!

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