About the Director
James J. Christy
For 35 years, Dr. Christy has been a professor and director with Villanova University’s theatre department, serving as chairperson of the department for 13 years. In 2002, he received his sixth Barrymore Award nomination for Outstanding Direction of a Play for The Merchant of Venice at The People’s Light & Theatre Company. Other recent credits include Riders to the Sea and The Dreaming of the Bones and Arcadia at Villanova Theatre; The Weir at Arden Theatre Company; and The Laramie Project at Philadelphia Theatre Company, which received 2001 Barrymore Awards for Overall Production of a Play, Direction of a Play, and Outstanding Ensemble. Last spring, he directed fellow faculty member Michael Hollinger’s Red Herring for Actor’s Theatre of Louisville.
VILLANOVA THEATRE PRESENTS THE TROJAN WOMEN
Villanova Theatre will present the Philadelphia premiere of a new translation of Euripides’ classic Greek tragedy, The Trojan Women, November 1224, 2002, at Vasey Hall on the Villanova University campus. Show times are 8:00pm TuesdaySaturday and 2:00pm Sunday. Tickets are priced $18$22 and may be ordered by calling the Villanova Theatre Box Office at (610) 519-7474.
The Trojan Women is directed by 2001 Barrymore Award-winning director James J. Christy, who will utilize a 1999 translation by Chicago-based theatre scholar Nicholas Rudall, original music composed by Robert Maggio, and testimonials by women from war-torn countries to emphasize the modern implications of the play’s themes.
The Trojan Women was written in 415 bc by Greek tragedian Euripides, the author of over 75 plays, including The Medea, Electra, and The Bacchae. The Trojan Women takes place in the aftermath of the mythical Trojan War. As the play begins, the women of Troy are left standing in the ruins of their country, enslaved by the conquering Greeks and awaiting an uncertain fate. The Greeks have invaded Troy to reclaim the beautiful Helen, who was taken (willingly or not) from her husband Menelaus by Paris, the son of the King of Troy. Helpless while their men and children are slaughtered, the women of Troy must deal with the consequences of a war they did not start and carry on.
“I was teaching a Greek styles class at Villanova last semester and was working with many of our women graduate students on Greek tragedy,” said Christy. “They were doing amazing work and I was struck by how deeply Euripides and the other Greek playwrights had thought about the role of women in war and how they presented women in such complex and thought-provoking ways. That experience, coupled with the shock of the September 11th attacks, pushed me in the direction of The Trojan Women and its anti-war spirit.”
“The more I got to know the play, it seemed to me that Euripides was incredibly aware of the idea that the men perpetrate war and the women suffer,” Christy said. “So many of his plays confront the all-male Athenian audience with the consequences of their attitudes...toward a lot of things, but specifically their attitudes toward women and, in this case, their attitudes toward war and women in war.
“The play raises questions that are extremely relevant today: ‘Why war now?’ ‘Why is that the only way to solve problems?’ Women are clearly the sufferers of war: What happens to them during and after war?” Christy is setting The Trojan Women in a modern war-torn city to emphasize the timelessness of the play’s anti-war tone and to focus on the experiences of women affected today by war.
“I was going through the process of conceptualizing the production, and I wanted it to represent the universal tendency of humankind to provoke or to pursue war,” he said. “I settled on the idea of placing men in modern military gear and women in the traditional clothing of the ancient world. These are images we are seeing in the news on a daily basis.”
The women of the chorus will reflect the juxtaposition of the modern and the ancient through their dual identity as a traditional Greek chorus and as modern-day war refugees. “The chorus will be wearing ancient, ceremonial robes, but they will also wear costumes underneath resembling refugee clothing for the portions of the production where I have inserted war testimonials. These clothes look like the old sweaters, tattered jeans, and head scarves worn by refugees in Kosovo or Northern Ireland or any number of places where women are suffering the ravages of war,” said Christy.
The Trojan Women is the fourth Greek play Christy has directed at Villanova, where he has been a professor and director in the theatre department for over 30 years. He previously directed Euripides’ Iphigenia at Aulis, Orestes, and The Bacchae, readily admitting the plays are “an impossible task to direct. They’re great, they’re beautiful, they’re complex, but they are very difficult to render into a contemporary theatricality.”
He feels, however, that Rudall’s translation of The Trojan Women, which premiered to great acclaim at The Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, DC, under the direction of Joanne Akalaitis, will help make the 2,500-year-old play accessible to audiences. “It is an excellent translation. Very sharp, spare, poetic. It has great rhythm.”
Rudall is an Associate Professor of Classical Languages and Literature at the University of Chicago. He has translated numerous Greek plays, including Sophocles’ Antigone and Aristophanes’ Lysistrata. He won Chicago’s Joseph Jefferson Award for his translation of The Iphigenia Cycle and the After Dark Award for his translations of Oedipus the King and Antigone.
For The Trojan Women, Christy has assembled a cast predominantly composed of current Villanova theatre graduate students. Antoinette “Toni” Purnell portrays Hecuba, wife of the King of Troy; Kristyn Chouiniere is Cassandra, Hecuba’s daughter; Nina Donze is Andromache, Hector’s wife; Daniella Vinitski is Helen of Troy; Mike Kleba is Helen’s husband, Menelaus; and Carl Granieri is a Greek herald, Talthybius. The role of Poseidon, God of the sea, will be portrayed by theatre department chairperson Peter M. Donohue, OSA. Andromache’s son, Astyanax, will be played at alternate performances by third-grade students Dimitri Lewicki and Jacob VanLangeveld.
The eight-member chorus is composed of Villanova students Carrie Bray, Melissa Dryslewski, Jennifer Kulick, Cheryl Mazzarini, Gillian Nicoletti, Gina Pisasale, Dana Tretta, and Taylor Williams. Soldiers are portrayed by Juan M. Bertrán-Astor, Joe Leduc, Jason Moreen, and Gregg Pica.
The Trojan Women production team includes Scenic Designer Dirk Durossette, Costume Designer Charlotte Cloe Fox, Lighting Designer Jerold R. Forsyth, Sound Designer Matt Callahan, Properties Designer cdavid hall-cottrill, and Dramaturg CC McFarland.
The Trojan Women performs November 12-24, 2002. Press Opening is Wednesday, November 13, 2002, at 8:00pm. Performances are held in Vasey Hall, Lancaster & Ithan Avenues, on the Villanova University campus. Showtimes are 8:00pm TuesdaySaturday and 2:00pm Sunday. Tickets are priced $18$22, with discounts for seniors, groups, and students.
For tickets and information, call the Villanova Theatre Box Office at 610-519-7474 or visit http://www.villanova.edu/artsci/theatre/.