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  • Writer's pictureJOE WOODWARD

Myth & Reality from Greece to Afghanistan with Euripides

Daramalan Theatre Company former student actors in cinematic aspects of "The Trojan Women" theatre production

When we visit the theatre we might so often wonder "why bother"? Seeing standard theatre fare done in a standard theatre style dating particularly to the 1950s with stock set changes and vocal articulations that emanate from somewhere near Oxford or Cambridge ... god ... why bother? Theatre is much more. Isn't it? The social justice of artistic persuasion is so often denied in practice as the initial impulse of Oscar Wilde or Bernard Shaw is bastardised into the cultural hegemony of the ironic class of supercilious intellectual snobbery and semantic demarcations. I mean what footy fan would go to theatre to see some emotionally challenged production of some English, American or Irish play devoid of any real connection to the world today?

So, forgetting about footy fans, might we consider the function of a theatre presentation that links myth with the reality of misogyny in cultures today. More specifically, let us connect the Ancient Greek play "The Trojan Women" by Euripides with the mythic and the reality of very similar events that are taking place today in Afghanistan.

"The Trojan Women" in 2022

Amy Goedecke as Cassandra in "The Trojan Women"

Being political in school contexts is not normally encouraged. I've been told that even doing Brecht in some schools is discouraged. I personally received a most insulting letter from a parent who challenged my company's choice of "Mother Courage and Her Children" in 2019. The suggestion that schools might discourage anti-war sentiments goes back a long way while our nation promotes involvement in wars wherever it can: eg. The Boer War, WW1, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan etc ... where-ever our allied masters suggest we go, Australia has landed. War is seen as a kind of necessity to promote mate-ship, honour, cultural values, the national spirit, patriotism etc etc! I mean how could there be a "NATION" without war as its foundation?

So schools historically have been silenced in any encouragement of critical assessment and evaluation of contexts, motivations and eventualities of war. This certainly applies to any evaluation of the extent to which women have been abused, raped and otherwise damaged by Australian forces in wars overseas or on our own land in the events surrounding the massacres and warfare with Aboriginal nations up until the 1920s. So a choice to develop and present a production of "The Trojan Women" by Euripides with reference to the Afghanistan take-over by the Taliban must consider the ramifications.

Pro-Am and Student Production

Former student members of DTC working on cinematic sections of the production

Daramalan Theatre Company bridges the current student body with past students now working in allied and related industries. The complexity of merging an ancient Greek play with the current world situation required additional inputs and skills beyond the resources of the school. Professional actor, Jack Curry, along with Tertiary students Wynter Grainger, Lillia Bank, Georgie Wiley and Joey Gardiner have added very considerable maturity to the work. In addition, Tilly Watson, now a Registered Nurse and a former Assistant Director of the Company has joined again to provide powerful professional assistant and role modelling. Katie Woodward, with a significant performance career involving Butoh, Burlesque and Theatre performance, provided detailed Movement coaching and opened up whole areas of performance for the cast.

If a company comprised of young people is going to be political and presenting theatre as a call to action, then they have to be good ... and very good. One can get away with naïve performances of standard and stock productions and people will accept them from students. However, once you step up into the political and social arena where you are offering a call to action, you MUST be very good and professional in what you do.

DTC has taken decisive action in developing strategies to ensure a distinctive quality in a potentially controversial work. The goal is for a professional standard work that will be up to the audience to judge and follow up with action inspired by the performance.

Unlike theatre

Yes indeed! "The Trojan Women" by Euripides is as much a ceremony as it is theatre. The intensity engendered by the young cast will be like few performances seen in Canberra over recent years. All cast members are committed to the call to action; and are unapologetic in utilising theatre to provoke and challenges communities for action.

Joe Woodward

PS. The bar opens for pre-show drinks 30 minutes prior to performance.

"The Trojan Women" by Euripides and adapted by the DTC cast,

directed by Joe Woodward with music by Jo Philp

23, 27, 28, 29. 30 April at 7.30pm and 30 April at 1.00pm Old Chapel Studio

Daramalan College

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