Tonight’s performance grew out of a course made possible by the generosity of Princeton’s Program in Hellenic Studies, headed by Dimitri Gondicas, a worthy contemporary practitioner of the ancient Greek art of hospitality. In the spring of 2008, Tim Vasen and I taught a course entitled Re: Staging the Greeks. The sixteen enrolled students read, discussed, and performed scene work from all of the plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes in preparation for a spring break trip to Greece, funded by the Stanley J. Seeger Hellenic Fund of the Program in Hellenic Studies. We spent the week visiting the ancient theatres and other related sites, and working with Greek theater professionals. At the end of the trip, the students and teachers, seated on a hotel roof looking up at the Acropolis, voted to produce the two plays you’re seeing tonight. Actually, the vote was deadlocked between two options, so we put the ballots in a pillowcase and I drew the option we’ve entitled Troy: After and Before. In relying on what we call chance, we let the gods make their call.
Tonight’s Iphigenia at Aulis has been translated by Lucas Barron ’09, one of the students in our course. The late Robert Fagles, Arthur Marks ’19 Professor of Comparative Literature at Princeton, provides us with our version of Agamemnon. A world‐renowned translator of the classics, Professor Fagles was also a longtime friend and supporter of Princeton’s Program in Theater and Dance and a gentlemanly but fierce advocate for the arts within the broader university community. We respectfully dedicate this production to his memory.Tim Vasen, Director, Troy: After and Before
THE SAME OLD STORIES
The Greeks loved to tell war stories; more than half of the extant tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, those clever people who brought us Theater the aftermath of and the buildup to that event, known largely through the work of Homer. In one sense, we go backwards in time, as Agamemnon takes place ten years after Iphigenia at Aulis. But time flows in the other direction as well ‐ Agamemnon was written by Aeschylus in 458 BC, while Euripides' Iphigenia premiered over 50 years later. In between these two plays about a disastrous war, the Athenian democracy fought the disastrous Peloponnesian War with Sparta, a 27 year run of deeply bad decisions which ultimately led to the downfall of Athens. Aeschylus was a war hero who had fought at the defining and glorious battle of Marathon, and in the gathering storm of the coming war he warned about the dangers of a victory bought with savagery. Euripides was at the end of his life an exile, looking from a distance at his city stripped of its empire and its democracy, perhaps wondering how on earth his people had gotten themselves into this mess in the first place.
Sometimes it is necessary to see the end before you can understand the beginning.