Production of "Electra" commands outdoor theater
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Directed by Theatre Arts professor, Mitchell Thomas, Sophocles’ “Electra” is unlike anything the Westmont Theatre Department has attempted thus far. The play is staged out in the open air, on a small set reminiscent of a Greek amphitheater.
The idea of putting on a Greek tragedy at Westmont had been simmering in the mind of Mitchell Thomas for almost two years. According to the director’s note in the program, the inspiration for a Greek tragedy at Westmont came about during a seminar in Washington D.C., which centered upon the song culture of Athenian drama. Throughout the process of discovery and further exploration, Thomas’ vision to honor the ancient roots while placing it in our time finally became a reality. “Electra” is the apex of that vision.
The play is based on a Greek myth focused on Electra (second-year Christine Nathanson), and her struggle to reconcile with the murder of her father at the hands of her mother (fourth-year Becky Jacks) and stepfather. Death and sorrow follow Electra and her family. There is a strong contrast drawn between Electra’s intense anger and the submissive gentleness of her sister Chrisothemis (fourth-year Lauren White). The Greek tragedy targets the destructive power of revenge and murder, raising existential moral questions around the misery, pain and bloodshed of a complex family. Playwright Nick Payne’s translation of the play updates the language to be both understandable and eloquent.
The crew took on the difficult task of creating an alternate stage where the Greek play could find its historic roots. The performance was brilliantly lit and staged, and with this, “Electra” truly captures the immaculate beauty of Ancient Greek theater. Using an outdoor performance, the bitterness and mythical nature was deeply felt. It was emotive and effective to have the set in the open air; the audience experienced Greek theatre as it was first performed.
The live musicians, including third-year Rebecca Shasberger on the cello, took on the task of creating an environment in which the story could be told with the most historical and theatrical candor. Chorus members moved about and around the stage, creating dynamic scene transitions, as well as narrating in deep discordant song. The musicians, located stage right, were dressed in attire suggestive of the past.
In short, this play is incredibly rich and profound, performed with fervor and passion. The acting is phenomenal, and the entirety of the experience is akin to being transported to Ancient Greece. It is surreal, magnificent and worth every penny.
Therefore, while tickets remain unsold, claim your spot on the benches! Grab a blanket, bring a thermos and cozy up under the stars to be mystified by an unforgettable performance.