War of the ‘Women’:Play offers insight into Greek tragedy

Hecuba (senior Maria Panvini), left, and Helen of  Troy (junior Nicole Lorenzetti) deal with the aftermath of the Trojan War in a scene from The Trojan Women.  The play opened this week and will be performed at the Spitz Studio Theater.By Oliver Joszt

Although the story of Troy is infamous, the story of the battle’s aftermath is not as well known. This weekend, the untold story will unfold on stage in the Spitz Theater.

Taken from Euripides’ classic tragedy, The Trojan Women chronicles the aftereffects of the Trojan War as seen through the eyes of Hecuba (senior Maria Panvini) and the other women of Troy as they grapple with the loss of their families and city.

According to Panvini, the play revolves around the “devastation of war as seen through the eyes of women and children.”
“Although it is a Greek tragedy and set in a time period so far from [where] we are now, if you think about war in general, you can connect the feelings portrayed in this show with those of people experiencing the fall of their homeland,” she said.

The production shows the fallen city in Greek hands and how the survivors become slaves of Greek soldiers. A messenger approaches to inform them that each woman will be taken as a slave by the man who drew her.

Trying to make an ancient Greek play relevant may sound like an uphill struggle, but Rebecca Basham, a professor in the English Department and a playwright herself, believes that The Trojan Women is very important for modern audiences and stands out from typical plays.

“A big part of it is that it focuses on the women involved,” Basham said. “Most Greek tragedies focus on the play heroes, so you get to see a different side. These aren’t the warriors but the people who maintained civilization within the city and how they have to deal with the fact that they lost everything.”

According to Basham, The Trojan Women is a literary classic that is not only going to be a night of entertainment but also a night of educational theater that is important in a university setting.

“It’s incredibly dramatic and interesting,” Basham said. “It looks at the Trojan War from a different perspective. [It] looks at it from the losers’ perspective instead of the winners’.”

Viewers do not need a lot of prior historical knowledge to see the play, according to Panvini.

“It’s easy to grasp what is going on without it,” she said. “But, it makes things much more interesting to have some background information. Little lines here and there may be lost to those who don’t know about the fall of Troy, but for those who do, it can only enhance their experience.”

Basham, who has directed numerous professional productions, found herself taking on the challenge of finding college students who could play older characters. This was necessary because the lead character, Hecuba, is in her late 50s.

Another problem Basham worried about was the ancient Greek setting and whether students would be able to follow it. Panvini was also concerned that a Greek tragedy might not be what everybody wants to see; yet both believe the play applies to modern audiences.

Other than Alpha Psi Omega’s Working, this is going to be one of Panvini’s last performances before graduating.

According to her, a play of this magnitude was “a really great learning experience.”

The Trojan Women opened last night in the Spitz Studio Theater. All shows begin at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $10 for adults and $5 for students and seniors and can be purchased in the lobby of the theater or at the ticket booth in the BLC.

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