TACOMA, Wash. – Iphigenia 2.0 is a very modern take on a very old story. In the hands of leading contemporary playwright Charles Mee, the critically acclaimed stage play re-tells Euripides’ original story (Iphigenia at Aulis) of a nation empire set on the path of self-destruction by a single, tragic act.
Mee’s adaptation takes the original demand for a sacrifice out of the hands of the Gods and places it firmly in the hands of Agamemnon’s own soldiers. The soldiers force us to question what it means to be a leader and the intimacy and disturbing familiarity of placing this story in our own zeitgeist highlights the cycles of sacrifice in our history.
Iphigenia 2.0, presented by the University of Puget Sound’s Theatre Arts Department, will be performed by an ensemble cast of students with direction by Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts, Jess K. Smith ’05. Performances will be held in Norton Clapp Theatre, Jones Hall, at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 28 and Saturday, March 1; and every evening at 7:30 p.m. from Thursday to Saturday, March 6–8. There will be an afternoon performance at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 8. Ticket information is below.
Playwright Charles Mee is known as somewhat of a theatrical collage artist, combining a variety of sources—including popular music, bridal blogs, war poetry, theoretical texts, classical literature, and dance—inside a classical Greek structure. In Iphigenia 2.0 serious issues are juxtaposed with comic episodes, all the while exploring the pressures of society. While Agamemnon grapples with the choice to sacrifice his daughter, Iphigenia is busy primping and partying with her bridesmaids as they prepare for her wedding.
The outcome on stage, as Mee writes, is “broken, jagged, filled with sharp edges, filled with things that take sudden turns, careen into each other, smash up, veer off in sickening turns.” He adds: “That feels good to me. It feels like my life. It feels like the world.”
Director Jess K. Smith said the play appealed to her because it asks more questions than it answers. The story throws up a mirror for modern audiences to re-see their own culture in a new context. “The story of Iphigenia has always been about sacrifice. However, in this adaptation, it is equally about the assumptions of our identities. What does it mean to be a leader, a man, a woman, a soldier, a daughter, a friend, or a witness? More importantly, what is revealed in those moments when the idea of duty clashes violently with one’s personal feelings? Who are we when the bullets fly, when the secret is revealed, and when life and death are at stake? Who do we wish to be?”, Smith says.
The play engages 13 Puget Sound students as cast members. Scenic design is by Kurt Walls, costume design by Mishka Navarre, lighting by Patty Mathieu, choreography by Kathryn Van Meter, and sound design by Jason Miller ’06. In addition stage management is by Zoe Levine Sporer ’15, dramaturgy by Christine Anderson ’14, prop design by Jen Bradley ’14, assistant stage management by Andrew Lutfala ’14, and assistant sound design by Jens Winship ’15 and Michael Villasenor ‘16.
Iphigenia 2.0 is presented by the Department of Theatre Arts at University of Puget Sound.
FOR TICKETS: order online at tickets.pugetsound.edu or call Wheelock Information Center at 253.879.6013. Admission is $11 for the general public; $7 for seniors (55+), military personnel, students, and Puget Sound students, faculty, and staff.
Press photos of the production are available by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo on page: Top right: The Sacrifice of Iphigenia, by Francois Perrier (1594-1649); Top left: Poster image for Iphegia 2.0 for Department of Theatre Arts production; Above left: Director Jess K. Smith.