School production champions women's rights
By: Anna Borowiecki
| Posted: Saturday, Mar 09, 2013 06:00 am
The Trojan Women
St. Albert Catholic High Drama Program
March 13 to 16 at 8 p.m.
St. Albert Catholic High School
33 Malmo Drive
Tickets: $15/adults; $12/students. $60/five-pack. Call 780-459-7781 to reserve.
Women have always had a soft spot for Euripides, a supposed champion of the weaker sex’s rights. Much of this is due to one of his lesser-known plays, The Trojan Women, one of history’s great anti-war plays.
While the men of the Trojan War either fought valiantly or turned tail and ran, the women were its real losers. The wives and mothers were widowed, raped and saw their children murdered. This is before they were parceled out to the victorious Greeks as concubines and slaves.
Never one to shy away from a challenge, St. Albert Catholic High School drama director Debbie Dyer takes Euripides’ tragedy into new territory. The Trojan Women has a four-day run at St. Albert Catholic high from March 13 to 16.
Dyer explains that Euripides wrote the play at a time of peace just after a 10-year war between Athens and Sparta.
“It’s a reflection on what people had to go through. It’s a reflection of what war leaves behind – the aftermath, the castoffs,” Dyer says.
“In the modern world we resign ourselves to not think about it. After the war, what’s left? Statues topple, people proclaim victory and then the cameras disappear. The stories disappear from the newspapers and it’s over. But it’s not over for the people left behind. It’s just starting.”
Led by the great Queen Hecuba, the imprisoned women cry over their fallen city and an uncertain fate as slaves in a foreign land. Hecuba’s husband King Priam and her two sons are slaughtered leaving her to provide leadership to the remaining Trojans.
Actress Marie Mavko, who wears Hecuba’s mantle, has delved into a deep character study for the role.
“She brings a range of emotion and experience to the character. She’s walked through it. At one point she has a lengthy monologue, but she never loses heart. She lives those moments of despair. But she also has an iron will that is undeniable and we can feel it in Marie’s performance.”
Her daughter Cassandra (Alex Dawkins) goes mad and her daughter-in-law Andromache (Karina Cox) must relinquish her young son to be thrown over the battlements.
“Both are frightfully complex and demanding roles,” Dyer says.
Only Helen (Sarah Lawless) finds a bit of breathing space knowing that her Athenian husband King Menelaus (Matthew Kluk) still loves her.
“She plays on his love,” Dyer says. “She uses and manipulates.”
One of the truly unique aspects of this tragedy is the production elements. First off, the theatre will be configured into alley staging. The audience will sit on opposite sides of a dirt walk, where the women are marched out of Troy to their doom.
In addition, fashion and food teacher Christine Sampson worked with Grade 12 students to build 80 per cent of the costumes. Constructed with a palette borrowed from the elements, the fabric was even dyed by hand to obtain the right tones.
“I’m dedicating this play to the memory of my mom and watching my son enter the world,” Dyer says. “There’s something inside the play that speaks to the cycle of life. It’s that emotion that brought me to the play and I hope there is something in it you can relate to.”