Iphigenia
The Annex
March 17 - April 3, 2005
Thursday - Sunday 7:30pm
Sunday at 3:00pm added!!
Tickets $15
Adapted and Directed by: Theodora Skipitares

Box office 212.475.7710

IPHIGENIA, adapted from Euripides by Ms. Skipitares, features 5 foot Bunraku puppets strapped to the front of actors' bodies at the head, the chest, the waist, and the knees. Each veiled actor speaks his lines from behind the puppet, much as an actor might have spoken his lines from behind a large Greek mask in ancient Greek theater. In this particular story of betrayal and deception in the name of war, these puppets are an eerie construction of facade and public display, while their operators are a shadow of primal, often raw emotions and personal desires.

When the play begins, the Greek king Agamemnon is waiting for winds to propel his ships so he can start the Trojan War. It turns out, however, that the king's earlier slaying of a deer has angered the goddess Artemis, who will continue to stymie his plans unless he sacrifices his oldest daughter, Iphigenia. Agamemnon lures Iphigenia and her mother Clytemnestra to his war camp with a contrived lie about a marriage to the great warrior Achilles. As soon as he sends for them, Agamemnon realizes what an awful idea he has come up with, and immediately regrets it. But it is too late........tens of thousands of soldiers are lusting for war......and events move forward to their dreadful conclusion. IPHIGENIA asks the questions: Is the sacrifice of a child necessary for the prosecution of a war?, and Can an entire nation be led to madness in a time of war?

An earlier version of IPHIGENIA was commissioned by the Minneapolis theater company, Ten Thousand Things. That production was performed in several county and state prisons, shelters, as well as public performance spaces. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune wrote: "Told with ritual and striking transparency in this staging by Theodora Skipitares, IPHIGENIA rings with a tragic resonance......Theater companies often prattle on about their current productions having 'an amazing relevance for today's times.' In IPHIGENIA, this production actually delivers."

Ms. Skipitares has been creating large-scale theater works with puppets for over 20 years. Her previous work includes The Age of Invention, Defenders of the Code, Under the Knife, A Harlot's Progress. IPHIGENIA is part of a trilogy of Greek plays, which includes Helen, Queen of Sparta,(2003) and Odyssey: The Homecoming (2004). Her works have been produced throughout the US, Europe, and Asia, and she has received numerous grants and awards, including Guggenheim and Rockefeller Fellowships, six NEA grants, and a UNIMA Citation for Excellence in Puppetry. In 2000, she won the American Theater Wing Design Award for A Harlot's Progress, and in 2004, she won the Helen Merrill Distinguished Playwriting Award. In 2000, she was a Fulbright Fellow in India, where she created two original works.

The music is composed by Tim Schellenbaum and Yukio Tsuji. Dramaturgy is by Andrea Balis. The puppets are constructed by Cecilia Schiller, a Minneapolis artist, and Ms. Skipitares. The company consists of puppeteers who have worked with Ms. Skipitares for more than a decade and actors John Benoit, Carolyn Goelzer, Chris Maresca, Nicky Paraiso, and Sonja Perryman,who portray the major roles. Iphigenia is the only character who is performed without a puppet.

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