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The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

“The Trojan Women” brings the effects of war to life

A dramatic moment: A look into the dark and war-ridden world of “The Trojan Women.”
Photo by Katie Jensen – Staff Photographer

The CLU theater arts department is presenting a modern adaptation of “The Trojan Women.”  The original piece was written by Euripides and was produced during the Peloponnesian War in 415 B.C.

California Lutheran University’s Michael Arndt has directed the 2012 version of Euripides’ classic that focuses on female victims of modern-day wars. Although the CLU theater arts program often produces plays of different theatrical genres, “The Trojan Women” presented a new challenge.

“The play is set in classical Greece. We had to make our production more relevant to contemporary audiences, which we think we have done by setting it in the context of modern warfare,” said Arndt.

The outcome of Arndt’s vision is both inspiring and heart-wrenching. A collection of post-war periods beginning with World War II, including Vietnam, Bosnia, Rwanda and present-day Iraq and Afghanistan create a memorable night.

The set is a crater created by a modern-day bomb and the mood of the play is deepened by the set design, costumes and lighting. CLU’s Gary Mintz is responsible for the lighting, which allows the audience to leave their seats in the Black Box Studio Theater and guides their eyes to the bottom of the crater.

Mintz and his crew have been working on the play’s lighting for over a month. He admitted the lighting was difficult and challenging.

“The biggest challenge is to reinforce the desperate plight of these women. They are in a situation that may be best represented by darkness in a metaphorical sense, yet the audience must be able to see,” said Mintz.

The beauty of the lighting is that it barely changes and it allows you to watch the hardships of these women while focusing on the message of the play.

The costume design in “The Trojan Women” was outstanding but difficult, due to the dark subject matter and message of the production.   With so many different time periods represented and individual stories told, the costumes were set in a grayscale that unified the characters.

“We have chosen to withdraw most color from the costumes. We are using colors, or the lack of, as a unifying force,” said costume designer Valerie Miller. “We had to find a way for all characters to look like they were from the same world and made sense in one space together.”

Miller and her staff used the drab gray coloring and makeup to highlight the severe burns, cuts, scrapes and body trauma, grabbing the audience and making them feel like they were part of the tragedies as they unfolded.

One of many superb performances throughout the night belonged to senior Catie Widmann in her portrayal of Helen of Troy.  The theater arts major masterfully portrayed a woman who is often blamed for the war.

“Helen is a survivor. She is in control and does whatever she needs to do to keep herself alive,” said Widmann. “She is often blamed for the war, but I think that is unfair.”

Widmann hopes audiences will gain an eye-opening understanding.

“I hope that those who see the play can empathize with the women and men on the stage and I hope that the audience is put in a good position to think critically about violence, raw power, war and demoralization of other humans,” said Widmann.

Arndt hopes for similar reactions from audiences.

“I would like for the audience to experience the effects of war on civilians by witnessing the women in the play and their responses to it,” said Arndt.


Matt O’Brien
Staff Writer
Published Nov. 14, 2012


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