Widely considered the greatest anti-war play ever written, Euripides’ The Trojan Women (415 B.C.) remains both timeless and timely, a poignant meditation on the aftermath of battle.
This month, Ron Himes — the Henry E. Hampton Jr. artist-in-residence at Washington University as well as founder and producing director of the St. Louis Black Repertory — will direct a new production of Euripides’ enduring parable for the Performing Arts Department in Arts & Sciences.
Performances begin at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Jan. 28 and 29, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 30, in the A.E. Hotchner Studio Theatre. Performances continue the following weekend, at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 4 and 5, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 6. Tickets are $12 for the general public and $8 for senior citizens and Washington University faculty, staff and students.
The A.E. Hotchner Studio Theatre is located in Room 208, Mallinckrodt Student Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd. Tickets are available through the Edison Theatre Box Office, (314) 935-6543, and all MetroTix outlets. For more information, call (314) 935-6543.
Written shortly after Athens’ brutal sacking of Melos in 416 B.C., The Trojan Women is set in the days following the fall of Troy, famously described in Homer’s Illiad. The drama focuses on the women of the defeated city, who — still grieving lost sons, husbands and brothers — learn from the Greek herald Talthybius (junior Pushkar Sharma) that they will be distributed amongst their conquerors.
WHO: Washington University Performing Arts Department in Arts & Sciences
WHAT: The Trojan Women by Euripides, directed by Ron Himes
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Jan. 28 and 29; 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 30; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 4 and 5; 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 6
WHERE: A.E. Hotchner Studio Theatre, Washington University, Mallinckrodt Student Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd.
COST: $12, $8 for students, senior citizens and Washington University faculty and staff. Available through the Edison Theatre Box Office, (314) 935-6543, and all MetroTix outlets.
Hecube (senior Lindsay Brill), the former Trojan queen, will be given to the hated Odysseus, while her daughter, the prophetess Cassandra (senior Laura Harrison), is allotted to Agamemnon and Andromache (graduate student Ann Marie Mohr), wife of the slain Hector, is taken by Neoptolemos, Achilles’ son. Meanwhile, Helen (junior Jenny Lichtenberg) is condemned to return to Greece with her former husband, Menelaos (junior Chris Wilson).
Himes noted that, in its focus on female characters and less-than-heroic depiction of the conquering Greeks, The Trojan Women was revolutionary for its day. “I think that Euripides was trying to give these woman a voice,” he explained. “Men waged the war, but they were the ones who suffered most.”
At the same time, Himes sees powerful resonances between The Trojan Women and our own strife-filled era. To that end, the production will feature spare, timeless costumes and sets — designed by Bonnie Kruger, senior artist-in-residence, and Christopher Pickart, artist-in-residence, respectively — and, in counterpoint to the classical Greek dialogue, a hip-hop-inspired chorus.
The Trojan Women comes at a busy time for Himes. He currently is directing Javon Johnson’s Cryin’ Shame (through Jan. 30) for The Black Rep, and will soon debut Bill Harris’ Stories About the Old Days (Feb. 9 to March 6). For more information about either production, call The Black Rep at (314) 534-3810.
Himes founded The Black Rep, one of the nation’s largest African-American performing arts organizations, in 1976, while a student at Washington University. He has produced and directed more than 100 plays and received numerous honors, including: The Better Family Life’s Creative Artist Award; the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Life and Legacy Award From the National Pan-Hellenic Alumni Council; and honorary doctorates from Washington University and the University of Missouri, St. Louis.
Euripides (c. 480-406 B.C.) was one of three great tragedians of ancient Athens, along with Aeschylus and Sophocles. He is estimated to have written more than 90 plays, of which 18 survive, most famously Medea (431 B.C.) and Electra (c. 420 B.C.). Though frequently based on the exploits of Athenian heroes, his works helped re-shape attic tragedy through their skeptical tone and strong secondary characters.