Iphigenia 2.0: Ancient Greek meets modernity
Iphigenia 2.0 opens tonight at the Norton Clapp Theatre. This unsettling revision of Euripides’ original play combines elements of Greek and contemporary theater into a unique play both comedic and tragic.
Audience members should note that the play may be a little unexpected and unsettling, but the hope is that it will encourage conversation and discussion.
Charles Mee’s Iphigenia 2.0 follows the story of Agamemnon shortly after he agrees to join Menelaus at Troy to bring back Helen. Before departure, he is asked by his men to prove his loyalty as a leader by sacrificing his daughter to the gods.
Agamemnon then is forced to choose between the life of his beloved daughter or the loyalty and lives of his men.
While Agamemnon deliberates, his daughter, Iphigenia, prepares for her wedding to Achilles. Iphigenia and her bridesmaids are seemingly stereotypical modern teenagers, eager to party and goof around with the young soldiers. The soldiers are filled with questions, leading to some very bizarre and hilarious answers or thoughts.
Mee’s adaptation shifts the focus from the gods demanding the sacrifice to Agamemnon’s own soldiers demanding it.
This shift causes the audience to realize that history works in cycles, and the issues plaguing ancient Greece still exist today.
The play is filled with classic Greek questions of leadership, the depth of loyalty, gender roles in society and the worth of sacrifice. It examines these questions in a modern way in light of war and history, both immediate and long-term.
There are plenty of fun and games to be had, however. Mixed in with the dramatic and tragic scenes are hip-hop dances, a tango dance Ke$ha songs, Greek folk songs, and, as Charles Mee describes it, “a party riot murder war.”
Audience members can also expect a military drill, a huge food fight, a big puffy wedding dress, other ridiculous costumes and a mixture of spray paint and broken champagne bottles.
Jess K. Smith ’05, Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts, decided to direct this challenging play because it was both exciting and terrifying.
The story is, as Mee said, broken and jagged, but it provides an evening of more than entertainment. It should make the audience uncomfortable, but then make them turn and open into discussion.
Mee provides very few answers in his work, so it is up to the audience to formulate their own thoughts on the material and decide how much of it they want to reflect on their view of history and their own lives.
The play is meant to reflect life in history but in a new way, so audiences should walk away with at least a new perspective on some aspect of their lives or the world around them.
“It’s important that [Puget Sound] students gain exposure to the great well-made plays of history right along side the experimental collage pieces like Iphigenia 2.0,” Smith said. ‘Engaging in this new form allows students to expand their understanding of the possibilities of theatre.”
Admission is $11 for the general public and $7 for seniors (55+), military personnel, students and Puget Sound faculty and staff.
Performances will be held in Norton Clapp Theatre, Jones Hall, at 7:30 p.m. today (Feb. 28), Mar. 1 and Mar. 6–8. There will be an afternoon performance at 2 p.m. on Mar. 8.