Greek tragedy amplifies female voices

Filled with powerful messages about gender and the sexual subjugation of women, “The Lost Women of Troy” brings light to the horrors women face during and after war. The department of theatre and dance along with GENSeng worked together to bring the campus’ first ever production of the play by Israeli playwright Hanoch Levin. The play is an adaptation of two plays by Euripides, “The Trojan Women” and “Hecuba,” in which the men of the Trojan War are no longer glorified as heroes, but seen as filthy, sexual predators. The women of Troy are treated as sex objects and then as slaves.

While the play takes place in ancient Greece, the ideas and themes explore the violation of women in all wars of history. It points out issues beyond its stage, concerning other issues revolving the universality of the suppression of women.

“We are the living, walking dead,” chants a chorus of ragged and worn-down women, reinforcing the universality of the play. Each person in the women’s chorus represents the voice of a violated woman somewhere in the world.

Professor of theatre Randy Kaplan, who directed the show, recently returned from a sabbatical in Tel Aviv, Israel and was inspired to start the play this spring.

“I knew I wanted to do a play by Levin because if you’re going to go to Israel, you have to do a play by Hanoch Levin,” she said.

“The angle that we’re looking at it from is that of the sexual subjugation of women, and the men in this play talk about it a lot. ‘[The men] are going to take you home and you’ll spread your legs, as we demand you to and when you’re all dried up, then you can do the housework.’ They pass [the women] around,” she said. “If you’re fat, if you’re young, if you’re pregnant – they don’t care what you look like.”

As the women of Troy await their fate determined by the men, they lose their hope and sense of self. Most of them are mothers, daughters and former wives, and they lose almost everything but the skin on their backs.

Former queen of Troy Hecuba, played by sophomore Bella Dixon, restores some hope and sense of composure for the women by confronting the men, speaking as both a mother and a woman. She is not afraid to speak up and demand mercy as well as explanations for the cruel acts committed by these soldiers.

According to Kaplan, women in these situations take a vow of silence because they are either ashamed, afraid or both. Hecuba speaks up, but receives no mercy or compensation for her losses.

“This play talks a lot about the horrible state of being … women in the world both today and in the past. A lot of the poems and speeches are pulled from modern day poems written by women who were affected,” Dixon said.

The play is also accompanied by an artistic display in the lobby created by dramaturgy senior Kimberly Olsen, which sheds light on the sexual subjugation of women around the world and is sure to enlighten passersby and audience alike.

“It’s a global approach [to the issue]. It mimics the intercultural nature of the production itself,” Olsen said. It highlights women who have suffered in countries such as Bosnia, Cambodia, Darfur and Rwanda.

“The women in the lobby display are your grandmother, your aunt, your niece, your best girlfriend, your girlfriend – that’s your wife,” Kaplan said. “I’m just going to let this play speak to the hearts of students.”

“The Lost Women of Troy” will run at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday May 1, Friday May 2, Saturday May 3 and at 2 p.m. on Sunday May 4 at the Alice Austin Theatre. Tickets are $10.