THE WOMEN OF TRACHIS by Sophocles
THAT WHICH WILL REMAIN UNSEEN
SWARTHMORE COLLEGE DEPARTMENT OF THEATER PRESENTS:
THE WOMEN OF TRACHIS
Directed by Michał Zadara
with Alex Kingsley, Nadia Malaya, Josephine Ross, and Cynthia Ruimin Shi Dramaturg: Ziv Stern
In the middle of the pandemic, Swarthmore visiting faculty director, Michał Zadara, stages Sophocles’ The Women of Trachis. Sophocles has his chorus of young women witness a non-public aspect of Heracles: his brutality toward women, animals, and societies. Today, theatres are closed and Sophocles’ truth must remain hidden. Zadara and his students have developed a version of Sophocles’ tragedy that consists of objects and multimedia controlled by a computer. The theater will be empty, there will be no live performers. No audience will discover what these women of Trachis saw. This knowledge will remain unheard and unseen.
OPENS Friday, April 24, 2020, 8 pm, Frear Ensemble Theater, Swarthmore College
NO ONE WILL BE ADMITTED - NO ONE WILL BE ON STAGE
DON’T CALL FOR RESERVATIONS
NO LIVE STREAMING
About 32 min, no intermission.
Co-sponsored by the Department of Classics and the Swarthmore College Honors Program.
About 32 min, no intermission.
Women of Trachis - rehearsal without performers
SOPHOCLES’ WOMEN OF TRACHIS
The Women of Trachis (which can also be translated as Trachis Girls or Teenagers from Trachis) is one of Sophocles’ least performed and most compelling plays. The play explores issues of power, depression, love, and violence. Greece’s most revered hero, Heracles, has destroyed a city and murdered its inhabitants in order to rape its King’s daughter. His wife, Deianeira, tries to win back his love with a potion that ends up killing him. The question is: to what extent was Deianeira’s action an accident, and to what extent did she find life with Heracles unbearable?
The chorus witnesses the inglorious demise of Greece’s most famous hero. They see a side of Heracles that was supposed to remain unseen: a man who causes needless suffering to satisfy his own pleasure and ambition and then is killed by his wife. Thus, the play is ultimately about what the chorus sees: the dark underside of heroic myths, the price of pain felt by those at the receiving end of the heroic story.
The text used in this production is a new translation by the ensemble from Ancient Greek.
THEATRE WITHOUT WITNESSES
What is lost when the theatre is shut down? In the end, tragedy is an encounter with everything that cannot be expressed through just words or images. In the theatre, what is not seen is more important than what is on stage. In this production of Sophocles’ play, nothing will be seen. The crimes and amorality of Heracles will be hidden from view, seen only by the fictional Women of Trachis. M ichał Zadara stages a live performance which no one - not even the performers - will witness.
The performance is a result of Michał Zadara’s Swarthmore College class “Tragedy as Contemporary Theatre.” His students read and analyzed Greek tragedies and then chose The Women of Trachis to stage. Classes on campus were cancelled in March, but Zadara has continued his theatre work with the students online.
Swarthmore’s Lang Performing Arts Center (LPAC) is empty. In isolation, Zadara is connecting equipment, moving scenery, and testing the multimedia his students are sending him. On April 24, 2020, a computer will start all the cues for the light, sound, and video, and the story of how Deianeira killed herself after killing her husband, Heracles, will be told. The cast and crew are recorded and the audience is absent.
Swarthmore College’s renowned Department of Theater continues to make live, collective work under these extreme and unique conditions. This performance will exist — and embody -- absence as the social reality of this time.