Casa students present Greek tragedy
'The Trojan Women' opens March 1 at Casa Grande High
Published: Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 9:44 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 9:44 a.m.
The brutality and horrors of war and the lasting wounds on its victims is what Euripides wrote about in his ancient Greek tragedy “The Trojan Women.” Though written about the ravaging of Troy by the Greek armies in 415 BC, its centuries-old commentary on human cruelty is relatable even in modern times.
THE TROJAN WOMEN
When: 7 p.m. March 1-2, 8-9; and 1 p.m. March 3, 9-10
Where: multipurpose room of Casa Grande High School, 333 Casa Grande Road.
Tickets: Available at the door and cost $7 general, $6 students, seniors and children. The 1 p.m. show on March 9 is a donate-what-you-can-for admission.
Casa Grande High School drama students are taking on the heavy subject matter in an adaptation of the play written by instructor John Rustan for the high school stage March 1-10.
“I originally began thinking of 'The Trojan Women' because of the large number of female roles for my students, but the more I read it, the more I realized it is an extraordinarily powerful statement on the brutal and dehumanizing effects of war,” said Rustan. “Over the summer I read several good translations and adaptations of the play, and decided to put together my own adaptation for this production.”
“The Trojan Women” is set outside Troy in the aftermath of a night of terror in which the Greek armies, having gained entrance to Troy via the belly of a giant wooden horse, destroyed the city, killed all the men and enslaved the surviving women. Rustan explained that the play was produced during the Peloponnesian War and that Euripedes most likely wrote it in response to the capture of the Aegean island of Melos and the subsequent slaughter and subjugation of its populace by the Athenians earlier in 415 BC, the same year “The Trojan Women” was produced in Athens.
“Doing a Greek tragedy is quite a challenge for high school students,” said Rustan. “It requires entry into a very different world than they are used to inhabiting. Especially challenging is the shift in time and rhythms. Students are used to the pace and rhythms of our 21st century technological, cell-phone, social-media world — but this cast has risen to the challenge of a slower, deliberate pace where people take time to experience, absorb, react to, question, and respond to what the world is handing them — without texting anybody.”
The story takes place in a temporary prison camp for the surviving women of Troy and depicts the brutal treatment of the wives, mothers and daughters of fallen Trojan men as they wait to be assigned as slaves to the conquering Greek officers.
The play's central figure is Hecuba, queen of Troy, who is sold as a slave and struggles to survive after seeing her husband and sons killed, and learning the terrible fate of her daughters.
“The Trojan Women” has a large cast of characters, so one of the adaptations Rustan made was to remove the roles of the Greek gods Athena and Poseidon, who appear in the play's prologue.
“I felt the scene seemed an add-on and not something necessary to the main dramatic action,” said Rustan. “I also wanted to de-emphasize the role of the gods so that the role men play in war would be more highlighted. The adaptation shortens the play and tightens it up, with more modern and terse language suitable to contemporary audiences. Some other Greek theatrical conventions have been altered.”
Rustan said that there is also more action on stage, and the production values have been altered to remind audiences that such treatment of war prisoners and civilians continues to occur in the world we live in today.
The Casa Grande cast features Lucy Slavin as Hecuba; Alyssa Ratto as Helen; Devin Lewis as Andromache; Christie Brutus as Cassandra; Sean Martinez as Talthibius; and Alec Runge as Menelaus. Rounding out the Trojan women ensemble are Lindsay Rowe, Karina Castillo, Elise Ban, Emely Chavez, Jordan Mendez, Megan Holland, Becca Morgan and Rose Drahn. The soldiers include J.R. Jeffries, Gavin Velz and Anson Morales, as well as returning Casa graduates Patrick Curzon and Jonathan Brookman. Isabelle Ban will star in the role of Astyanax.
Douglas Gerard is serving as both the production/stage manager and assistant director. Casa Grande graduate and Santa Rosa Junior College theater student Jennifer Biancalana is also an assistant director.
“One of the great things about this production has been having the assistance of Douglas Gerard and Jennifer Biancalana,” said Rustan. “Doug Gerard and I have worked on 11 plays together. Jennifer Biancalana, a former student now headed to Southern Oregon University, has worked hard on the production working with actors off-stage while I worked scenes on-stage. Having people you know and trust to collaborate with makes the entire project that much more rewarding.”
Show times for “The Trojan Women” are at 7 p.m. March 1-2, 8-9; and 1 p.m. March 3, 9-10 in the multipurpose room of Casa Grande High School, 333 Casa Grande Road. Tickets are available at the door and cost $7 general, $6 students, seniors and children. The 1 p.m. show on March 9 is a donate-what-you-can-for admission.
(Contact Yovanna Bieberich at yovanna.bieber firstname.lastname@example.org)
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