Drama Board Proposal

Hapax Legomenon

Drama Board Proposal

Daniel Jamison, '08

After the success of Euripides's Bacchai two years ago, I was inspired to present my plan for a production of another Greek tragedy, Aeschylus's Agamemnon. If the board approves this, I plan to spend the coming year casting and rehearsing, and the year after that rehearsing, with a projected production date of Spring 2010. As such, I will need additional funding to house and feed any actors who graduate in the interim, as well as money to provide them with a small stipend. I should not go over my attached budget of $143,740.78, however.

Text: I plan to use the Horace Greeningshire translation of the Agamemnon (Oxford, 1846), which I have provided attached since it is out of print. His studious adherence to the original meter of Aeschylus combines fruitfully with whimsically antiquated syntax. Don't let the repetition of the out-of-fashion word 'cratswoken' or occasional lapses into Germanic capitalization fool you: this translation is a gem, and the only one appropriate to my performance.

Cast: The play has six distinct parts, plus the chorus, but my substitution of inanimate objects for two of the parts will mean that I only require four actors. I will also be recruiting a chorus of twelve individuals from the A Capella groups. Because of the extreme old age of the chorus in the Agamemnon, I will be recruiting these singers from the alumni of A Capella groups in the 1950s.

Location: I think Hicks Mural Room, with its elaborate depiction of early 20th century political and social concerns, best reflects the themes of social inequality and environmental activism that run powerfully through the Agamemnon.

Set: At least two weeks production time will be necessary to hang the miniature lighting grid across the top of the Mural Room. However, because the grid will serve as the stage, not for hanging fixtures, the fire code should not be transgressed. In fact, I hope to put the entire show on in the dark. The actors will lie face-down on the lighting grid, opposite the audience who will be lying on pillows below.

Costumes: At this point, my requirements become a bit more complicated.

Watchman: I have decided to replace the character of the watchman with a tea pot, a symbol at once of domesticity and also of the subjection of the laboring classes to the arbitrary lordship of the city-bred elite. His lines will be shouted from the hallway in the original Greek to symbolize his marginalization.

Clytemnestra: Several productions have attempted to depict Clytemnestra bloodied after her murder of Agamemnon. I would like to push the stakes a bit further in this production. By adding a hydraulic pump to the traditional peplos tragic costume, Clytemnestra will be able to spray blood directly down on the audience for the entirety of her time on stage. Continued use of the pump throughout the performance will require approximately twenty gallons of pig's blood for each show, already factored into the budget.

Messenger: The messenger will be replaced by a note attached to a tumbleweed. I hope this will summon the idea of the American southwest to the minds of the audience members, for fundamentally important and obvious reasons.

Agamemnon: Because of his epic core, Agamemnon will be dressed in a full hoplite panoply from the waist up. The assembly will require the dedicated assistance of three smiths and David Stifler working for about six months. From the waist down, he will be completely nude, symbolic of his essential vulnerability.

Cassandra: Cassandra is often referred to as a trapped animal, which I have, again, decided to push to its logical conclusion. We will be renting a Philadelphia Eagles mascot costume from O'Byrne's Costume Shop near Market Street. The rental will only cost us $65, which is the cheapest we could find in the area. However, since we will need the costume for approximately 16 months of in-costume rehearsal, I have also factored in 530 days of late fees. The pig blood should wash out easily, and we should be able to patch up the hatchet marks with duct tape, preventing any further rental charges due to abuse.

Aegisthus: In some ways, Aegisthus is the deus ex machina of the Agamemnon, since he appears at the end of the play with a divine proclamation, declaring that Orestes should marry Hermione, showing that Ajax has slaughtered the Argive cattle mistaken for generals, and displaying the bodies of Jason's children. As such, I believe that Aegisthus should be dressed as a god, despite his otherwise famously mortal nature. The halo is in the prop box, as I remember, and there should be enough feathers from the mascot costume to construct a set of wings. The tail will have to be improvised.

I hope you will give my proposal the due consideration that it deserves, and I look forward to hearing your response.

Thank you,