Theater Students Perform Modern Greek Tragedy for UIL

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  • Rebekah Farris ’19 warns the audience in Greek.

  • Lucy Wang ’21 converses with juniors Nicole Boisseau and Rachel Rusch while she gets ready for her wedding.

  • The soldiers, who trained with ROTC for the play, march in formation.

  • Lucy Wang ’21 and her bridesmaids dance with each other.

  • Iphigenia, played by Lucy Wang ’21, has her dead body carried on stage while seniors Minsoo Han and Isabel Cameron react.

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Throughout March, Westwood Theater performed their UIL competition show Iphigenia 2.0., written by Charles Mee. The story follows Euripides’ original Greek tragedy about love and sacrifice, but told in a modern time period. The show was performed at UIL on Wednesday, March 13, publicly after school Friday, March 15 and during school hours Tuesday, March 12.

“When I first heard we were doing a Greek tragedy I thought we were gonna be in body armor, like an old school Greek play,” Chayce Wellings ‘19 said. “But no, Ms. Coats did a great retelling of it in contemporary times. I thought it was a really unique take on it, how we were able to incorporate the army being the navy, and we were able to have Greek influences with the costumes and the language.”

The story follows Agamemnon, a king attempting to send his army off to war. The army refuses to go to war unless Agamemnon shows he is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice of killing his daughter Iphigenia. This results in Agamemnon baiting Iphigenia into coming to what she believes is her wedding, but is actually her execution. As the show progresses, different characters learn about what is really happening and react in different ways. This all leads up to one final scene where Iphigenia’s throat gets slit by her own father, resulting in the cast destroying the set out of rage and grief, and ends with Agamemnon screaming over his daughter’s dead body.

“It’s very dark,” Lucy Wang ‘21 said, “[and] very dramatic. If you’re not warned and you just go see it, you’re kinda in a state of shock afterwards. It’s a lot of tension building, and at the end everything just gets destroyed.”

To give a convincing performance, all members of the cast had to do work behind the scenes to give the best performance possible. The actors did research regarding their characters’ past in order to understand and portray their motivations, along with learning how to properly pronounce their lines spoken in Greek and Latin. Additionally, the soldiers were trained by members of ROTC on how to march and handle their rifles.

“It was pretty difficult,” Dalton Clay ‘19 said. “It’s a big part of Greek mythology and you have too communicate things to the audience that you can’t downright say, and they don’t have a knowledge of the character like you do. So it’s pretty tough.”

Although the play failed to move on in the competition, several of the actors received individual awards. Wellings and Minsoo Han ‘19 were awarded All-Star Cast for their roles as Menelaus and Agamemnon, in addition to Wang and Isabel Cameron ‘19, who received honorable mentions for their roles as Iphigenia and Clytemnestra.

“With this being my first and last UIL, getting an award was a big deal,” Wellings said. “I have never really played someone so malicious and cold. There’s no hope for Menelaus. His wife’s taken from him and he’s hellbent on getting his wife back, no matter what the cost.”

The cast gave it their all with a performance full of passion and dedication. The show gave theater students the opportunity to experiment with performance styles that pushed their acting to the limit.

“It was completely different from any UIL show we’ve done,” Cameron said. “It was a very nice blend of contemporary elements along with honoring the past. Greek plays are where theatre started so I think it was a great way to find a good mix of the two.”