The UofSC Department of Theatre and Dance will present The Trojan Women, translated from Euripides’ ancient text by acclaimed scholar Nicholas Rudall, Feb. 26- March 1 at the Lab Theatre.
Show times are 8pm nightly. Tickets are $5, and available only at the door. The Lab Theatre is located at 1400 Wheat St. in the Booker T. Washington building.
Senior theatre major Kelsea Woods is directing the centuries-old Greek meditation on the brutality of battle, which continues to move and inspire audiences, even in the present day. Euripides’ classic tragedy tells of the fates of the women who remain in the city of Troy after its destruction during the Trojan War. Woods’ production of the play intends to give audience members a firsthand look at the human cost of war, as told by the women left to survive in the aftermath of their fractured world.
The director plans to use the entire Lab Theatre space, as well as unconventional seating, to immerse the audience in the action of the play.
“I knew I wanted to use different staging elements to really enhance the experience of this play, instead of just watching it proscenium style,” says Woods. “I’m playing with the sensation of place and time, and using design elements as characters almost. The audience will be considered ‘Trojan Women’ and there will be a set of rules to let them know what they are getting into. The whole Lab space will be playing space, the characters have been living their daily lives here, and the audience is walking straight into that.”
Woods’ vision for the production injects a contemporary, urban aesthetic into the ancient, war-torn world of the main characters. She imagines the surviving women of Troy living in a derelict subway, abandoned during the years of violence.
“These women have watched their families be killed and their city be destroyed, and they are waiting to see what is next for them,” says Woods. “But, they aren’t just going to sit around and do nothing. This play was originally a call-to-action for the Greek people… and I see echoes of that within the Trojan Women themselves.”
Woods says she was drawn to direct the play after spending last summer in London at the American Institute of Foreign Study. As a scholar with USC Beyond Boundaries and USC Carolina Global Study, Woods conducted research on experimental and immersive theatre. Additionally, she began a dialogue with Dr. Josephine Machon, author of the pioneering textbook, Immersive Theatres, to further delve into the concepts.
“In my mind, immersive theatre is really an extra-sensory experience,” Woods says about the unorthodox production style. “It’s really about imbuing all the senses and pulling you into the world of the story as if it’s happening around you.”
Appearing in the production are undergraduate students Jamie Boller, Rebecca Shrom, Cami Reid, John Floyd, Jon Whit McClinton, Jasmine James, Elizabeth Houck, Haley Sprankle, Brooke Smith and Ashley Graham.
“This production won’t be just ‘theatre,’ it will be an actual life experience,” says Woods. “That’s what immersive theatre does — it enhances your ability to intellectualize and interpret the text because you have now lived it, felt it and experienced it first hand. You will come out of this play a different person in some way, shape, or form.”