Tonight Ancient Athens will come to life in Sawyer Theatre.
VSU’s Theatre & Dance “The Oresteia” at 7:30 p.m. tonight through Nov. 12 and Nov. 14-16. Another showing will be Nov. 13 at 3 p.m.
“The Oresteia” is a trilogy of Greek plays written by the playwright Aeschylus. The trilogy was originally performed in Athens during the 5th Century BCE.
“This translation and version by Ted Hughes is extremely good and very contemporary, commissioned by the National Theatre of Great Britain for their production in 2000,” Dr. Bickerstaff, Assistant Theatre Professor and Director, said. “I wanted to include it in this season’s productions for several reasons, mostly because it is rarely done as a complete trilogy even though it was written to be performed that way.”
The plot of the play takes place during Agamemnon’s return from the Trojan War after Troy’s defeat.
“I think it has a lot to offer to contemporary audiences in theatrical terms, both for our university student audiences and for our ongoing community audiences as well,” Dr. Bickerstaff said. “With the curse of the house of Atrius and Trojan war in its back-story, the spectacle and intensity of the plot is played out by thirty-one actors, with original music, drumming, choreography, and special effects.”
However, the large scale and two intermissions still allow the cast and crew to complete the trilogy within three hours.
“I was interested in doing this show because I knew it would be an interesting challenge like no other,” Shawanna Hall, Assistant Stage Manager said.
“Being a part of a Greek Tragedy tests your will, patience and gives you a new perspective on what it takes to bring a huge non musical production together,” Hall said.
Auditions were just as overwhelming as the trilogy itself.
“We had over 75 students audition for 30 roles, but we have also involved a student lighting designer, three student stage managers, and numerous students in the construction and running of the scenery, costumes, sound, and lights,” Dr. Bickerstaff said.
The department had its work cut out for it. Design work began in May and rehearsals started in August. With such a demanding show and large cast, rehearsal times are difficult to manage and require cooperation from everyone.
“Because our area head, Mrs. Jacque Wheeler, was working on choreography with 12-member choruses for two of the three plays, we sometimes were able to have two rehearsals going on at the same time,” Dr. Bickerstaff said.
Overall, the compromise and sacrifice the preparations needed from the cast and crew are working out in their favor—members of both are thrilled to be part of the trilogy and cannot wait to perform it for the school and community.
“I am most excited for the audience to see the last play of this show, “The Eumenides,” Hall said. “This play has the most thrills, spectacle, and gasping moments. I think when the audience sees this, they will be wanting more!”