BY SHRUTI RAM – COPY CHIEF
Next week DramaCentre will be running their fall production, Hecuba, a Greek tragedy set in 424 BC. The play was originally written by Euripedes, the famous Greek tragedian, and will be directed by Tony Haigh.
Junior Rachel Kent will be playing the titular character, Hecuba, returning to the stage after last fall’s production, These Shining Lives.
“Hecuba is referred to as old, and she is in the context of the play, as she is about 50-60 years old, which was quite old in Ancient Greece,” Kent explained of her character, “Since she is way older than me, we worked a lot on getting into character for someone that age. She used to be a queen but is now a captive slave in her own land. She had 50 children, and they have all died. She has been through a lot and it has been interesting trying to play the character in an emotional way and portraying without being melodramatic. I have been working on getting into character as I cannot rely on emotional memory to draw on for those feelings.”
DramaCentre is also taking a unique approach with the production, by drawing parallels between Hecuba and the Syrian refugee crisis.
Recently, Danville welcomed a refugee family into the community, and various Centre organizations are coming together to support them by helping with general fundraising, food donations, bathroom supplies, and transportation.
“I’m really excited about representing such a relevant story,” Kent said, “We will have donation boxes for the recently resettled refugee family in Danville [every night] during the show.”
Senior Chandler Garland was asked to write a prologue specifically for Centre’s production of Hecuba.
“Chandler asked [the actors] to bring a refugee’s personal account from any point in history,” Kent said, “In the prologue, some of the actors are reading these personal accounts, and the stories are working backwards from present-day Syrian refugees to those from Ancient Greece.”
“The experience [of working on the show] has been introspective,” says stage manager Tory Parker ’15, “The play centers on the idea that refugees have been with us as long as war has been with us, and the prologue really brings that idea home.”
This is Parker’s second time stage-managing a Centre production. A recent graduate, she is currently working in Lexington, but returned to help Centre’s Drama department when they were in need of an experienced stage manager.
“We always talk about giving back to Centre, so I really want to in any way that I can,” Parker said, “and theater was such a big part of my Centre experience, so this seemed like a good opportunity to do it.”
“It has been cool to see all of the elements of the show build and come together,” Parker added, “I am the only one besides [Director] Tony Haigh who does. My favorite scenes are the ones where the chorus move and speak synergistically as a unit. It required a lot of practice and coordination.”
The set of the play, designed by Scenic and Lighting Designer, Matthew Hallock, is also a unique aspect of the play. It features strategically placed rubble, struts, slopes and long walkways, as well as a giant canvas tent structure that may be opened or closed. The scene also features many muted gray, tan, and white tones, and feels reminiscent of a refugee site even today, which is a deviation from a typical Greek tragedy set in Ancient Greece.
“I like the set because sometimes Greek plays can seem a little disconnected from the audience,” Parker said, “The set does not seem like it’s set in a specific time period and transcends time. It allows the audience to understand the story a little better.”
Working on a play like Hecuba has put the refugee crisis in perspective for some cast and crew members.
“Hecuba has been a journey that I think all of the cast and crew have grown from,” senior Natalie Trammell, who is a part of the Hecuba chorus, said “We have had to put ourselves in a dark place, discussing the life and horrors that come with war and being a refugee, but from that we have learned so much about lives outside of our own.”
“I’ve always been active in politics and in CentrePeace,” Kent said, “It’s always something that I’ve been active in but [working on this show] has honed in on the personal experience of what it would be like to be a refugee.”
“This show has given us as a cast and crew to make a difference and help those in need!” Trammell said, “We even had a donation pool for Syrian Refugees and raised over $100 from the cast alone.”
“I think I speak for all of us when I say we are so excited to share our work with the audience and we hope they can learn as much from the story as we can!” Trammell added.
Come see Hecuba November 9-12 at 8pm in Weisiger Theater.