Tuesday, May 15, 2012

ISU Students Part of Mary-Arrchie's "Electra" in Chicago

Chicago's Mary-Arrchie Theatre Company has announced a new adaptation of Euripides' classic "Electra," adapted and directed by Sonja Moser and performed by an ensemble that includes Illinois State University undergrads and recent graduates.

Mary-Arrchie's website makes it clear that this "Electra" is a whole different kind of Greek tragedy. As they put it: "Set in John Deere country, this inventive meta-theatrical adaptation of the famous Euripides tragedy is filled with live rock music, humor, teen angst, and sweet, sweet muddy revenge."

You may remember Electra from your grade school Greek mythology class, or possibly from Eugene O'Neill's "Mourning Becomes Electra," which moves the story to the post-Civil War U.S. In Homer's "Iliad," Electra was the daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, the king and queen of Mycenae (sometimes called Argos). Agamemnon was the brother of Menelaus, the one beautiful Helen ditched* to run off with Paris, so Agamemnon went with his brother to wage war against Troy and get her back. To get the wind to pick up so the Greek ships could get out to sea and get their war started, Agamemnon sacrificed Iphigenia, his daughter, which did not sit well with his wife, the girl's mother.

And then we have the Trojan War, wherein Agamemnon hooked up with (or was given, as spoils of war) Cassandra, the good news/bad news girl. (Good news: You have the gift of prophecy, Cassandra. Bad news: No one will believe you.)

Back at home, Agamemnon's wife Clytemnestra wasn't happy her husband killed one of their kids to get his boats to move, and she also took a lover. So when Agamemnon got back to town after all those years of war with Cassandra in tow, Clytemnestra (with the help of her lover) offed him and Cassandra. Not happy that their mom killed their dad, Orestes and Electra plotted revenge and eventually killed her, too.

And they were all members of the cursed House of Atreus, which had a history of murder, rape, revenge, incest and general mayhem, even before Clytemnestra knocked off her husband in the bathtub and her children retaliated by murdering her, too.

"Electra" was performed at ISU under Moser's direction last fall, and it is that production moving to Mary-Arrchie with some cast changes and the inclusion of non-ISU students. This time, the ensemble will include Matt Bausone, Caitlin Boho, Terrence Budnik, Kelsey Bunner, Gwen De Veer, Matthew Hallahan, Frank Huber, Keith Jackewicz, Russell Krantz, Emily Nichelson, Paula Nowak, Lauren Pfieffer, Danny Rice, Dustin Rothbart, Kadyn Walther and "special guest" Bert Matias.

Performances are scheduled for July 6-29 with curtain at 8 pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and 3 pm on Sundays. Tickets are $20 for adults, with student, senior and group discounts available. You are invited to call 773-871-0442 for information or reservations, or to reserve online through Ticketweb.

If you would like to support the efforts of the ISU students who will be staying in Chicago to take part in "Electra," you can make a donation here.

*Did Helen ditch Menelaus? Or was she abducted? Different writers take the story in different directions.

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